Aaron Gordon at Sports On Earth has a fascinating statistical breakdown of every NFL broadcast team, analyzing the worst announcers in the sport. As part of the study, Gordon watched 2 full games broadcasted by each announcing team and chronicled the number of mistakes made in 6 categories – cliches, factual errors, nonsense, self-references, taking plays off, and being off topic.
Some of the results were quite predictable, while others were quite surprising.
The individual announcer who made the most mistakes was the retiring Dan Dierdorf with 61 infractions in 2 games. That's a broadcasting no-no every 2 minutes of game time from Dierdorf! That seems like a massive amount of mistakes that's hard to do even if you tried, but if you've ever listened to him try to explain a replay decision then it shouldn't come as a massive shock.
Here's the full list of announcers and their number of mistakes over the two games and then some more takeaways below. Remember, it's better to be at the bottom of this list rather than the top.
Play by Play – Best: Joe Buck, Kenny Albert. Worst: Chris Myers, Marv Albert
Analysts – Best: Mike Mayock, Cris Collinsworth. Worst: Dan Dierdorf, Tim Ryan
* Chris Myers and Tim Ryan are not usually among the most critically acclaimed announcers, and now we have statistical evidence to back up that perception. Myers ranks #1 in most mistakes for a play by play man with 33 while Ryan ranks 2nd among analysts with 55 infractions. That makes it a wearying experience to try to get through a game.
* I'm stunned to see Dick Stockton in such good standing here as it's no secret the veteran announcer doesn't have the same zip on his fastball anymore. (Point deducted from myself for unapproved cliche usage.) At the other end of the spectrum, Marv Albert quietly has had a bit of a spotty tenure since joining the NFL on CBS a couple years ago and ranks 2nd in play by play infractions.
* Given the fact that Tony Siragusa has half the airtime as the other analysts on this list, it's a remarkable achievement to rank 4th in analyst mistakes. He made 3 times as many mistakes as either Mike Mayock or Cris Collinsworth in a fraction of the airtime. Basically, he's the Brandon Weeden of NFL analysts.
* On the plus side, it's no surprise to see Mayock and Collinsworth as the analysts that make the least mistakes as they are widely regarded as the two best analysts in the sport. However, I wonder if Mayock's unique idioms such as "burp the baby" could be counted as cliches, nonsense, or both.
* Both Joe Buck and Kenny Albert rank very well in this list. Again, more evidence that Buck is slowly turning around the narrative against him. Two years ago, our social media mentions would be flooded with football fans annoyed or angry with him. Now, there's hardly a peep criticizing Buck for his announcing from the masses. Give him credit for showing more energy in his calls while maintaining a high quality.
* Another interesting revelation is just how many more mistakes analysts made versus their play by play counterparts. Analysts made approximately double the announcing errors as their counterparts in the booth, which makes you wonder if networks should consider expanding the roles of people who aren't ex-jocks.
One final note is that while this great Sports on Earth study analyzes the mistakes, it doesn't provide positive points for analysts who are exceptionally insightful. That would provide another layer of analysis in separating the best and worst NFL announcers. Take someone like Jon Gruden for instance – who has his fair share of nonsensical ramblings, but has one of the best X's and O's minds in NFL broadcasting. Ronde Barber and Steve Tasker may not make many mistakes, but they may not wow you with their analyst skills either. Al Michaels may go off topic more than other announcers, but there's likely nobody on this list you'd rather have call a big game.
And then again, in spite of what numbers may say, individuals and networks will always have certain preferences when it comes to the announcers they choose for the face of their network coverage. It's a subjective industry. While the majority of critics appreciate Cris Collinsworth's work, do a Twitter search for "Chris Collingsworth sucks" on a Sunday night and you'll see plenty of examples of people who think differently. Charting announcing mistakes in a statistical study is a useful tool for grading announcers, but this will likely always be an industry that is largely governed by subjective opinions.