So how do I even grade Announcers you ask? Well, I don’t really know. It’s a combination of many things really: Do they stick to the point, Are the games called without errors and verbal slip-ups, Is the voice not annoying, Do they say completely asinine things. You know….things like that. I collect all this information in my head and make a completely biased decision, and assign a grade. Good? Good.
Before we get to the fun of grading I noticed one more thing about Dr. Z’s article. As with everything these days there seems to be a generation gap. A great example of this is the Grammy’s on Sunday. Every vote seemed to be cast by 40 something year-olds. The fact that Mary J. Blige won so many awards alone is a testament to the theory.
It happens in Sports too. Blogs versus Traditional Media, Sabermetrics versus Scouts, etc, etc.
Well the main disagreement I had with Z was on Gus Johnson. The Good Doctor says that Johnson is loud and over-bearing. Well this is the exact reason I love him! Maybe it’s because I listened to Metallica growing up, but I like an exciting event to be called like it actually IS exciting. But I digress…..onto the grading……..
Announcing Leads (alphabetical order):
Kenny Albert (FOX)- C-, Kenny just seems to have a bit of Nepotism in his favor doesn’t he? Plus he kind of annoys me…..just seems like he’s trying to hard at times.
Joe Buck (FOX)- D, Speaking of Nepotism……Buck has taken a gift learned from his dad, and turned himself into a smug, egotistical shell of what his dad was.
Ian Eagle (CBS)- B-, Very underrated if you ask me. Is never paired up with anyone of his equal though.
Dick Enberg (CBS)- C+, Always pretty solid, but again the generation gap is coming into play here. He just can’t keep up the way he used to.
Bryant Gumbel (NFL)- F, Let me say this….I love him on Real Sports. He is a great journalist and provides a great service. Buuuut……he sucks as an announcer…..sorry.
Greg Gumbel (CBS)- C, Really not that much better than his brother. Adds nothing to the game and is just there. Not bad….not good.
Kevin Harlan (CBS)- B, I’m a big Harlan fan. I think he has energy and is usually good enough to carry the Rich Gannon’s of the world.
Gus Johnson (CBS)- B+, I think Gus is the perfect broadcaster. He works well with others, and has passion for the game. His only problem is that he gets WAY too excited sometimes. Not every first down needs to be yelled about.
Al Michaels (NBC)- C, I don’t think Al likes anyone or anything anymore. He’s just bitter at this point. I’d still listen to him, but with a finger hovering over the mute button.
Jim Nantz (CBS)- B+, This was an A before the Super Bowl. I haven’t been this disappointed in a debut since Jerome Walton.
Ron Pitts (FOX)- B-, Yet another lead who’s dragged down by his partners. With that said he was a solid B+ as a color guy.
Sam Rosen (FOX)- C+, Not bad this past year. Didn’t get that many games of his, but I don’t remember cringing like in years past.
Dick Stockton (FOX)- C-, Another Generation Gapper. Dick is just up there in age, and can’t keep up with football in the 2000’s. Having him with Daryl Johnston is a big mistake.
Mike Tirico (ESPN)- C, I really think Mike Tirico would be better if ESPN would just stop f’ing with him. The Tony Ks and James Denton’s of the world can be very distracting.
The Color Guys:
Troy Aikman (FOX)- A, He’s at the head of the class. He tells me things I’m not aware of, and can put up with Buck.
Brian Baldinger (FOX)- C, I really have no opinion on him because I rarely see his games. People either love him or hate him, and I’m right down the middle.
Cris Collinsworth (NFL-N)- A-, Only got the minus because he’s too cocky sometimes. But unlike Buck he actually provides great analysis which can offset his pompousness most of the time……MOST of the time.
Randy Cross- (CBS)– C+ , Is hurt immensely by being paired with Stockton. He’s not bad when he’s with Harlan.
Dan Dierdorf- (CBS)– C- , Everything with him is in sweeping generalization form. I don’t think he’s really trying anymore.
Marshall Faulk/Deion Sanders (NFL-N)- Incomplete, I personally hated them in the booth. While they were much more serious than I thought they’d originally be….they didn’t belong up there. And with Bryant Gumbel leading them….it was a train-wreck.
Rich Gannon- (CBS)- D , I think Rich Gannon is dreadful. All he does is predict that thing will happen, and they almost never do.
Ron Jaworski- (NFL-N)- B+ , Doesn’t get an A because he gets a little “too in-depth” sometimes. I don’t want to feel like I need a playbook to understand a game.
Daryl Johnston- (FOX)- C+ , Was a solid B last year but he’s going backwards instead of forward for some reason.
Tony Kornheiser- (ESPN)- D+ , Tony showed a semblance of knowledge here and there throughout the season, but ultimately ended up as a hack-comic on one of the most important franchises in the Sport of Football.
John Madden (NBC)- No Grade, You can’t grade Madden anymore. He’s an institution….everyone knows what they are getting, and he’s still fun to watch.
Tim Ryan (FOX)- B-, He’s good but he’s a little too “Raiders Friendly” for my tastes. I know he played for them, but seriously….even Raiders’ fans knew they sucked last year.
Phil Simms (CBS)- C-, I just don’t like him. I don’t think anything will change that. He’s always too loud and tells Jim Nantz that he’s wrong.
Steve Tasker (CBS)- B-, Unlike Doc Z…..I like Tasker…..a lot actually. I think he balances being funny and calling the game perfectly. Maybe that’s just me though.
Joe Theismann (ESPN)- F+, The worst of the group. He provides nothing but facts even my grandmother would know.
Dick Vermeil (NFL-N)- A-, Would have gotten an A+ if it wasn’t for that laryngitis incident. He’s friendly, he’s funny at times, and he knows what he’s talking about. He’s like Jaworski without all of the shift zebra- Red 42- Slotback-9er talk.
Solomon Wilcots (CBS)- B-, Despite the fun I’ve had at S-Dub’s expense this past year….he’s actually really good in the booth. He’d be a good third man on a team.
So what do we (I) do with this now? Well I have fun with it. If I was the decision maker in all of this (and I obviously should be) here’s how the teams would look.
Without Any Network Affiliations:
I’m going with two 3-man teams for the huge matchups each week, and three 2-man teams to cover the other intriguing games. The rest can be filled in wherever, or voted on/off Survivor style for all I care.
In my mind the perfect 3-man team needs a solid lead, an amiable and intelligent color guy, and a stats guy that glues it all together.
Team 1: Jim Nantz, Troy Aikman, and Dick Vermeil
Team 2: Gus Johnson, Cris Collinsworth, Jaws
Team 3: Kevin Harlan and Tim Ryan
Team 4: Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots
Team 5: Ron Pitts and Steve Tasker
I mainly wrestled with which team to put Vermeil and Jaws on. I ultimately put Jaws with Collinsworth because I’d like to see them challenge each other every week. I think the #1 and 2 teams are pretty interchangeable though.
With Network Affiliations:
Here’s where it gets difficult……NBC, ESPN, and NFL Network can’t change so we’re only working with CBS and FOX. Here’s what I came up with.
Team 1: Jim Nantz and Steve Tasker
Team 2: Gus Johnson and Solomon Wilcots (what’s wrong with an All African-American Booth?)
Team 3: Kevin Harlan and Randy Cross
Team 4: Ian Eagle and Phil Simms
Team 1: Ron Pitts and Troy Aikman
Team 2: Kenny Albert and Tim Ryan
Team 3: Sam Rosen and Brian Baldinger
Team 4: Joe Buck and Daryl Johnston
So there you have them. My conclusion you ask? Well FOX ultimately has no one to work with in the Lead Announcing category. I would personally try to make Tim Ryan a lead and put him with Aikman, but that would be tough. I would then pay Collinsworth $8 million a year, drag him away from CBS/NFL-N, and pair him with Pitts.
CBS is just has better overall talent. You can really mix and match, and the only reason I put Tasker with Nantz was because he’s already been with Gus Johnson for a year. I also think Johnson and Wilcots could make a Browns-Jets game seem fun.
If anyone has thoughts/ideas on how switch around or add to the teams…..your opinions are welcome in the comments.