Mike Goldberg

Nearly a decade to today’s date, Mike Goldberg made his NFL play-by-play debut on Fox. To say it was a disaster would be an insult to disasters. His foray into the NFL broadcasting booth was announced prior to the start of the 2014 NFL season. As the lead UFC announcer, the MMA veteran had some experience calling preseason for the Arizona Cardinals but had never called an NFL game on national television before.

And boy, did it show.

On the call for the Minnesota Vikings-Detroit Lions game on Oct. 12, 2014, Goldberg repeatedly referred to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as Don Zimmer. It wouldn’t have been an egregious mistake, but it was one Goldberg made multiple times, and the late Don Zimmer passed away months earlier.

Goldberg’s debut for the NFL on Fox wasn’t exactly stellar, but it was the first of two scheduled appearances in 2014. So there was still time for him to improve upon his performance, right? Well, he burned that bridge soon after he compounded his performance by battling with and cursing out some of his critics on social media.

Those tweets were deleted soon after, but the damage had been done. He was removed quickly from the following week’s broadcast, which effectively ended his NFL broadcasting career. It ended as quickly as it started. So much for a soft landing.

Goldberg was actually slated to call another Minnesota game in the following week, with the Vikings scheduled to play at the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 19, 2014. However, Fox Sports inserted Tim Brando, who was hired to be the play-by-play voice for college football and college basketball games on Fox and Fox Sports 1, and fulfilled his duties as a backup NFL announcer, in place of the ousted Goldberg.

In just a week, it was all over.

One more important note here is that while Goldberg’s performance was brutal, it wasn’t seen by most of the country. A Week 6 match between the Lions and Vikings isn’t exactly a big draw for Fox, as the game was only shown in markets that were not limited to, but included Minnesota, Detroit, North and South Dakota, the Western part of Iowa and Louisville, Kentucky (the Teddy Bridgewater connection).

So, the only reason the 17-3 game is notable at all is because of how bad Goldberg was in the broadcast booth. It’s not like he was a rookie broadcaster, but perhaps NFL play-by-play just isn’t his thing. Heck, it isn’t for everyone, it’s why the likes of Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, Al Michaels, Mike Tirico and Ian Eagle, are few and far between.

While Goldberg may have been taken off his assignment for reasons outside the broadcast booth—mainly reverting to using profane language against his critics, there’s enough evidence to conclude that it was in Fox’s best interest to cut ties with the former employee, who was previously a sideline reporter for the NFL on Fox from 2000-02.

If you can stomach sitting and listening through the first half of a 2014 Lions-Vikings game, the example below should suffice as to why the NFL probably wasn’t too upset that the Goldberg experience had ended before it started.

As for Goldberg, well, he left the UFC in 2017, but he still remains a play-by-play voice of Boxing and MMA.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.