Before we answer that, who would you guess as the man who has called National Football League games on network television for the longest period of time? Would you guess Pat Summerall? Dick Enberg? Dick Stockton? Maybe even the late Charlie Jones? While each of those would be good choices, you would be wrong. Neither man is the longest-tenured NFL announcer on national television. So who is the person with that distinction?
A few clues for you. First, he's called NFL games consecutively since 1967. He has called the NFL for CBS and NBC. In addition to the NFL, this man has been the play-by-play announcer for numerous Orange Bowls on NBC, hosted the PGA Tour on NBC in the early 1980's, called swimming on the 1988 Summer Olympics, worked with partners such as John Brodie, Bob Trumpy, Randy Cross, Sonny Jurgensen, Steve Tasker and many others. He was the sports anchor on NBC News at Sunrise in the 1980's and also gained a following reporting sports on the Imus in the Morning program on the old WNBC Radio. He's currently the radio voice of Notre Dame football for IMG.
If you guessed Don Criqui, you would be correct. After calling the Cleveland Browns-New England Patriots game for CBS in Week 14 earlier this month, Criqui has been a play-by-play announcer on the NFL for 47 consecutive years. That is the longest active streak among announcers not just in the NFL, but in all sports on network television. After Criqui, the next longest tenured active announcer is Dick Stockton who is in his 35th year. The late Pat Summerall is next after Criqui having called the NFL for 41 years on CBS and Fox.
CBS had not scheduled Criqui to be on its NFL talent roster this season, but was called out of the bullpen for Browns-Pats when Bill Macatee could not fly out of Dallas to New England due to inclement weather. And for the rest of the season, Criqui is not expected to call any more games and probably won't continue with CBS in 2014 so Stockton would likely become the longest active NFL network TV announcer.
Here are some of the classic moments Criqui has called over the years:
From November 8 1970, we have this rare video of Criqui on CBS calling Tom Demspey's 63 yard field goal which was a record that stood until this season.
Criqui moved to NBC in 1979 and became partners with John Brodie on the "B" announcing team, a position where he would remain throughout the 1980's.
And here's Criqui with Bob Trumpy on the Cleveland Browns-Cincinnati Bengals game. They formed a very popular team and worked together for two Super Bowls on NBC Radio for the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
Classic Sports TV and Media has compiled a list of the longest consecutive streaks not just for the NFL, but for most of the major sports on television and it's quite interesting.
First, here's the NFL announcer list courtesy of Classic Sports TV and Media:
41 years: Pat Summerall, CBS & FOX — 1962-2002
38 years: Charlie Jones, ABC & NBC — 1960-1997 (AFL & NFL)
35 years: Dick Stockton, CBS & Fox — 1979-2013 *
32 years: Frank Gifford, CBS & ABC — 1966-1997
30 years: John Madden, CBS, ABC & NBC — 1979-2008
29 years: Dan Dierdorf, CBS & ABC — 1985-2013 * (retiring)
28 years: Al Michaels, ABC & NBC — 1986-2013 *
22 years: Tom Brookshier, CBS — 1965-1986
21 years: Dick Enberg, NBC & CBS — 1977-1997
21 years: Marv Albert, NBC — 1977-1997
21 years: Joe Theismann, ESPN — 1986-2006
For college football, the man who called the sport the longest was ABC's Keith Jackson at 40 years. Brent Musburger with 30 years on CBS/ESPN/ABC is the longest active announcer there.
In college basketball, Billy Packer and Dick Vitale are currently tied for longest tenure with 35 years, but that will change next season when Vitale takes over first place all by himself.
And for Major League Baseball, Fox's Tim McCarver 34 years is the longest and unless he goes to MLB Network or TBS next season, his streak will end with the 2013 season.
It will be interesting to see how long the current generation of announcers like Joe Buck, Jim Nantz and Mike Tirico will last. It's hard to believe that Buck has called the NFL on Fox for 20 years and MLB for 18 years, but it's true.