In 2017, there were plenty of memorable games and moments across the sports world. But what were the best calls of the year? We’ve racked our brains and come up with this list of ten (organized chronologically), and I’m sure absolutely no one will disagree with any of these choices (especially the *three* soccer calls. Oh, the humanity!)
Without further ado, here’s the list.
January 9: Chris Fowler (Clemson vs Alabama)
Since taking over as the lead college football play by play announcer at ESPN, Chris Fowler has slowly been developing into a steady voice in the booth. Typically restrained, he let his emotions fly when Clemson scored a last second touchdown to beat Alabama and win the College Football Playoff. After his initial call, Fowler led the moment breathe with the crowd going nuts and the camera shaking, further emphasizing what an incredible play this was.
March 1: Kevin Kugler (Michigan vs Northwestern)
This is the win that essentially nudged Northwestern over the line into their first-ever NCAA Tournament, and Kevin Kugler’s call of the full-court heave and buzzer beating lay-in conveyed all of the emotion that was going through the crowd and players at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Another notable part about this call to me – Kugler didn’t just yell the names of the players involved. He actually described what was happening during the play. That couldn’t have been easy, given what was at stake during the play.
March 8: Ian Darke (Barcelona vs PSG)
Barcelona’s 6-1 win over PSG in the Champions League Round of 16 looks like a blowout on paper, until you realize that Barcelona had to overcome a 4-0 first leg deficit and that three of the six goals they needed came in the 88th minute or later in this game. Ian Darke didn’t lose his mind like he did in 2012 when Manchester City completed their shocking comeback over QPR to win the Premier League, but his post-goal call of “it was mission impossible, but it wasn’t impossible” will resonate for years.
April 23: Ray Hudson (Real Madrid vs Barcelona)
I had to get one Ray Hudson call in here, and his call of Lionel Messi’s last gasp game-winner in El Clasico is a layup. I think this in the first time in sports history where the phrase “flaming spear” has been used by an announcer, but hey I’m not mad about it.
September 16: Brad Nessler (Tennessee vs Florida)
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) September 16, 2017
I waffled between using Brad Nessler’s call of the Hail Mary or Gators radio broadcaster Mick Hubert’s, but in the end, I went with the national call. It was Nessler’s first big call on a national level for CBS, and he slammed it home.
September 24: Rickie Ricardo (Giants vs Eagles)
Joe Buck’s call of Jake Elliott’s game-winning 61 yard field goal was also on point, as was long-time Eagles voice Merrill Reese’s call. But I’m going with Eagles Spanish voice Rickie Ricardo’s call, which bordered on hysteria. At least you can’t say that he wasn’t excited.
October 6: Matt Vasgersian (Yankees vs Indians)
I actually wasn’t as enamored with Indians legend Tom Hamilton’s call as others, but it’s still worth a listen. As for Matt Vasgersian’s call on MLB Network, he often goes over the top, but after he did that following Francisco Lindor’s grand slam, he shut up for 30 seconds and let the manic crowd at Progressive Field take over.
October 7: Gus Johnson (Maryland vs Ohio State)
I don’t feel great about including this one, since Denzel Ward was ejected for this first quarter hit on Maryland’s Taivon Jacobs. But Gus Johnson’s call of the hit is so over the top that I can’t help but laugh. “You got barbecue back there? And you didn’t invite me? HURT MY FEELINGS!” It has nothing to do with the hit at all, but the absurdity of it is incredible.
October 19: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo (Raiders vs Chiefs)
You probably forgot about the wild finish to this game, given that two months in the fall is an eternity in the sports world. But Jim Nantz, who has been criticized for a milquetoast approach to calling games at times, and Tony Romo, one of the broadcasting world’s brightest new stars, probably won’t, and they reacted like kids to one of the wildest finishes in NFL history that saw two replays, three flags, two untimed downs, and a game-winning extra point that was nearly missed in the final 30 seconds.
November 29: Gary Weaver (Manchester City vs Southampton)
I absolutely love this call by Gary Weaver (and hell, the strike from Sterling nearly killed me when watching it live). He calls the moment perfectly, lets the crowd breathe, shows plenty of emotion, drops a memorable line (“the host of the late late show again!”), and somehow manages to bring it all back to the overall long-term significance of the match-winning strike. Whew.