Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Dec 2013

The Best and Worst NFL Announcers

This is such an amazingly good idea that I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it first. Aaron Gordon of Sports on Earth went through a series of games and actually tracked how often announcers used cliches, got plays wrong, or spoke utter nonsense in order to create a ranking of the best and worst announcers. The results are very close to what you would expect. I feel particularly vindicated because I often say that Brian Billick is the best color guy on the two main networks. (He comes in second here behind rookie Ronde Barber.) Mike Mayock and Cris Collinsworth are first and second, of course. Joe Buck and Kenny Albert score as the top play-by-play guys, Chris Myers and Kenny's brother Marv as the worst. Dan Dierdorf is the worst color guy. (Surprise! I mean, not a surprise!)

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 17 Dec 2013

117 comments, Last at 29 Dec 2013, 10:55pm by prof pat


by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:09pm

"The results are very close to what you would expect."

It was a tad creepy to have what I thought about the various announcers confirmed so precisely.

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:31pm

I'm not that surprised--after all, everybody in the FO comments section watches a lot of football and has a fair amount of knowledge, so I'd expect the same annoyances would ping on the same people, other than aesthetic differences (like whether one finds Simms's diction and word choice more or less annoying than Aikman's, regardless of what words come out of their mouths).

by CBPodge :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:19pm

I found it really difficult to read this in work, and had to fake many coughing fits to get through it.

If the NFL comes up with all-star crews of refs for playoff games, shouldn't the networks come up with all-star commentating teams? I'd love to see a Joe Buck and Mayock team do the Super Bowl.

The worst team could be punished by having to do the Pro Bowl.

by bernie (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:23pm

Oh Jesus, a Buck/Mayock Superbowl would be a nightmare that even Freddy Krueger would be terrified of.
Buck is the most self righteous asshole there is, and Mike MAyock lost any shred of credibility when he repeatedly described Mike McGlynn (Colts guard) as " a mauler". The guy has been one of the worst guards in the league for 2 years now.
He then described the loss of Greg Toler as being one fo the key differences in the Colts D, since he was "one of those difference makers". If he means there are less DPIs per game, then I agree with him, but I think he was trying to be complimentary to Toler.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:19pm

I can't stand Buck, but I do like Mayock and think he gets a bad rap. My "dream team" would probably be Nantz and Mayock.

by jebmak :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 3:12am

I'm glad that I'm not alone. I can't stand Buck, and was shocked that he was one of the better announcers. I guess that my dislike is coloring how stupid I think that he is.

by Duke :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 4:17am

Count me in with people who find Buck extremely annoying. He's so self-righteous it really bugs me. The only thing I really liked about him was when he did that Leon commercial:


by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:47am

While you have to admit the collapse of their secondary has coincided with Toler's injury, your DPI joke is just too damn good.

by bhauck :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:42pm

Yeah, I got halfway through and had to give up. The Tim Ryan paragraphs were just too much.

by coboney :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:19pm

I am only disappointed by Phil Simms low ranking.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:41am

I assume that it wasn't lower?

by wr (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:26pm

"Gruden, with his 29 infractions, can't find the sweet spot between impersonating a caricature of a football coach and being a real person. "

Funny, I thought Gruden WAS a caricature of a football coach. And shares with Fouts the tendency to make every play the most significant play of the game, and whoever made it the most significant player on the team.

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:29pm

That assessment of Aikman seems pretty much spot-on. It's not that he says things that are dead wrong or mind-numbingly stupid the way Dierdorf and Simms subject us to, it's just that dead silence would be equally informative analysis. Which one you'd prefer depends on how annoying you find his voice and how much listening to silence bothers you.

(Though, I have to say, after watching the Seattle/NYG game yesterday, I can't help but think Burkhardt/Lynch is worse than advertised, even though I actually credited a stupid remark to Lynch when it was actually Burkhardt during the game.)

Though "take plays off" should not be an infraction against play-by-play guys unless the reason they took the play off is that they were too busy yammering about something NOT the play on the field.

But I think the biggest problem with commentators is the one mentioned about Gruden, the "mandate to provide general entertainment." Ever since John Madden*, color commentators became part football analysts, part clown. Except that Madden in his prime established the template because he was actually good at providing analysis, then making that analysis fun for the casual fan. (My father's favorite Madden moment remains the time Madden had been rambling on a la Dierdorf, then stopped, said something roughly equal to "I'm just blathering on and not making any sense. I'm going to shut up for a while" and then proceeded to do exactly that.) Guys like Gruden, Kornheiser, etc. all try to be entertaining first and analyze...maybe. Sometime. Kinda. If they have to. That mandate destroyed Jaworski's value in the booth.

*Play-by-play announcers had Howard Cosell, but that model wasn't really followed, except as it helped turned MNF into a more entertainment-heavy model. I'm glad that NBC, even as ratings have soared and the general hoopla around the game keeps getting bigger and bigger, has at least let Michaels and Collinsworth keep the actual football game more or less about football.

by Boots Day :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:43pm

Cosell wasn't really the play-by-play man in the MNF booth. That was Frank Gifford. Cosell fancied himself more of a reporter/analyst - and he was really terrible. He rarely said anything that any fan halfway paying attention to the game couldn't have come up with on his own.

You know who was really good? Dandy Don Meredith. In his own casual way, he'd pipe in to tell you exactly what had happened to make a play work, and the replay always confirmed that he was correct. I've been watching a lot of old Monday night Football games, and I am consistently impressed with his analysis.

by Jerry :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 11:28pm

Cosell never did play-by-play. Keith Jackson did it the first year, then Frank Gifford moved into the role. Cosell fell naturally into the role of making pronouncements that would stir up controversy, which worked on a broadcast that was trying to draw a prime time audience. Every now and then, there are attempts to add the non-football guy into the Monday Night booth to try to attract the more casual fans, and it never works.

by Anonymoussssss (not verified) :: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 6:43pm

*How* do you watch old MNF games? youtube?

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:50pm

"That assessment of Aikman seems pretty much spot-on. It's not that he says things that are dead wrong or mind-numbingly stupid the way Dierdorf and Simms subject us to, it's just that dead silence would be equally informative analysis."

This is exactly right. I was stunned when I heard Aaron Rodgers say on his radio show that Aikman was his favorite announcer. He was basing this on how well prepared Aikman was at the team meetings before the game. Rodgers said Aikman was by far the best prepared.

Which bothers me a lot. Because if this is the case, then why can't Troy offer anything more than "They must feel pretty good about themselves" during the game?

I think the answer might be that the networks want the commentary dumbed down so the audience is not intimidated. My counter to that is "Please challenge me! I want to learn something I don't already know."

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 6:35pm

I felt Aikman was quite good in his first couple of years, he'd break the passing game down like the HOF quarterback he used to be. Then it seems the network guys got to him and as you allude to, had him dumb it down. Now you could replace him with a cardboard cut out and few would care.

by nath :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:07pm

if this is the case, then why can't Troy offer anything more than "They must feel pretty good about themselves" during the game?


by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:16am

I haven't frequented nfl.com for years, but Aikman used to write there with some regularity and honestly I thought he was better than many of their regular writers (a low bar, yes). I suspect he actually is smarter and understands more than he sounds like (and is more thoughtful than he appears) but gets dumbed down for the games.

I picture the process of training a new announcer as similar to the brain tuning scene from Sleeper (Woody Allen, USA 1973).

by J Squat (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:45pm

Aikman doesn't bother me, and Gruden & Dierdorf are way worse than him.
I'll take Michaels for play by play. And then anyone else ahead of Joe Buck. Hate that voice & attitude.

by Jimmy :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:18pm

Agreed about Buck, smarmy doesn't even begin to describe him. I am also stunned that the author managed to watch two games of Buck in which he didn't keep going on about 'when we met with X yesterday' because that is all he does for the first half of every game. It is supposed to inform the broadcast not replace it.

by nath :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:10pm

I think it's important to keep in mind that these rankings aren't necessarily "best", just "least bad". They make no mention of the number of good insights certain announcers provide, only the frequency with which they screw up.

Buck is rated highly here because he doesn't screw up the facts very often. He is, however, stuffy and dull and always sounds like he has very little interest in the game at hand, which to me makes him significantly worse on a practical basis than some of the guys rated below him.

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:46pm

Gruden is a terrible football announcer, but I still like him a lot. It's fun to listen to an insane person ramble.

You remember that one game Chris Berman ended up announcing? That was easily the worst announcing performance I've ever seen.

Oh, and I wish that the study tracked uses of the word momentum in an improper context. Meaning any time other than when discussing velocity X mass. That might help.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:45pm


Pretty sure it's OK to use it as "Team X comes into this game with a lot of momentum."

Also - lots of words have one meaning in a science context and a totally different meaning in other contexts: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_(physics)

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:00pm

Oops. Always a bummer when someone's pet peeve is really their own fault!

by Jon Goldman (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:15pm

I was being facetious about sticking to a rigorous definition of momentum.

However, football momentum has been statistically proven to not exist, at least not in the way that commentators use it. Look at Barnwell's work on Grantland for more.

It's a narrative thing that relies on a misapplication of cause and effect.

by Dennis :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:00pm

I'm shocked that Joe Buck did so well. Maybe it's because he's just so annoying that it seems like he's spewing more drivel than he actually does.

by DEW (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:18pm

Between his voice and mannerisms, which a lot of people seem to find very irritating, and the fact that he works with Simms, which makes the overall experience that much worse, I think there's a disconnect between effect of listening to him and the actual words.

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:21pm

Buck irritates me, but he's usually in the game. I think he is truly watching what is happening. He used to irritate me more, but the state of announcing what it is I tend to give him a pass. His biggest problem is he tries too much to get Aikman to offer up analysis, like trying to get blood from a stone. Aikman doesn't spout cliches, take plays off or spout factual errors. He just doesn't say anything with any real analysis. I can fall asleep listening to Aikman.

Buck's problem in baseball is similar he just won't reel McCarver in when Tim goes off one of his bizarre irrational tangents.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:55pm

I may be wrong, but I remember a large portion of the Joe Buck hate was how he was trying to follow the Pat Summerrall school of not getting excited for big plays (but without Pat's charm).

I remember Joe being loudly criticized after his dispassionate call of the Tyree catch in Super Bowl XLII, but he's definitely improved in that regard over time. Just listen to his call of Hakeem Nick's Hail Mary against Green Bay. He now gets loud, gets excited. I think he's generally worked to make himself better as a play-by-play guy.

Of course, he falls into the old man trap of criticizing stupid stuff like when he infamously went off on Randy Moss for the fake moon, but he's nothing when compared to Jim Nantz in that regard.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:55pm

There is nothing Joe Buck loves to call more than a penalty on a TD.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 6:34pm

No, there is. Proudly exclaiming that "No Flags" right after a long TD.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 8:07pm

Wait, Joe Buck is a person? I though that was a voice synthesizer listening to an rss feed.

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:20pm

Sure Aikman and Buck have the least infractions, but they are just god awful to listen to. I mute any game they announce. As for Gruden, he may ramble on and on but he makes it entertaining to listen. He also highlights contributions from lesser known players on a team. Though I still can't get over how much he like MJD's thighs... lol

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:53pm

Yes, Buck and Aikman are the most god awful team to listen to. Buck is the height of pomposity and Aikman says nothing of value. But Dierdorf is the most maddening, awful single announcer.

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:48pm

I believe Dierdorf has been gradually slipping into dementia over the year. This proves it

by What did yo usay (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:21pm

Aikman's inappropriate injection of the word what into many of his statements has become increasingly annoying over the years.

by N8- (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:47pm

Instant mind numbing cliches:

"In this league" - as opposed to some other professional football league?????

Any use of the word "momentum." Oddly enough, the team that possesses the ball is the one that has this so-called "momentum."

Any reference to "Brett Favre" during a Packers game. Let the man rest in peace! He hasn't played here in years and no one cares.

"Outside looking in"

Take a shot every time you hear these quotes during a Packers game and see if you make it to halftime...

by Guest789 :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 4:16am

Well there are other professional leagues. Americans love to laugh at the CFL, but it's decent, entertaining football.


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by Dennis :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 6:12pm

Do CFL announcers always refer to the league as "THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE" like NFL announcers always have to say "THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE"?

Something like, "You can't afford to give up too many singles if you want to win in the Canadian Football league".

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 1:56pm

This is measures how bad announcers are, but it doesn't measure how good anyone is.

Also, it's missing a category for "not seeing the same reality as the rest of humanity", which Phil Simms would score the most points in.

I too have been a Billick fan while he's in the booth, but I think he's gotten worse the past year or two compared to when he first started. More inanities and less insights. Not by a huge degree, but he was more interesting when he first started.

by Hurt Bones :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:00pm

Unfortunately the writer had budget restrictions which kept him from purchasing the electron microscope necessary for such a measurement.

by Dennis :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 6:14pm

That happens to all former players and coaches when they start announcing. A lot of them are very candid when they first start, then they get pressure to tone it down because the current players and coaches don't like the criticism.

by Anonymousssss (not verified) :: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 6:48pm

This is interesting. Is it true? I mean, have you heard this complaint from a player or coach?

by robbbbbb (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:06pm

Mostly, what this piece should tell you is that effectively announcing football games is hard.

We give these guys a lot of crap, because they say some dumb things. But the networks have a huge, vested interest in providing effective announcers and commentators. That these guys are the best they can find speaks to just how hard it is to do.

Try it at home sometime. Turn the volume off and sit and call the play-by-play for fifteen minutes. Don't say um. Don't drop an f-bomb. Continually say cogent and coherent things. How did you do?

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:10pm

"the networks have a huge, vested interest in providing effective announcers and commentators"

Why do you believe this? Is there any correlation between good announcing and ratings?

My uncle told me once he think networks intentionally make the announcing bad so that you can scoff at them at home and feel smarter.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:05am

Your explanation sounds more plausible than robbbbbbbbbbbbbb's.

by Led :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:17pm

You're absolutely right that effectively announcing a football game is hard. It's also the case that the former jocks and coaches are unlikely to have had any formal training or the years of on-air experience that other professional extemporaneous speakers have before they are put on national television. Not to sound too much like Howard Cosell, but the idea that you absolutely have to have a former coach or player in the booth makes no sense. There's just a finite universe of former players/coaches with the natural communication skills to add value in a booth. Unfortunately, the Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser experiments will likely discourage networks from thinking creatively in this area, but I think those efforts were stumbling in the right direction. We still want people who know and understand football, and can add insight, we just want them also to be able to speak coherently for three hours.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:48pm

The problem with Dennis Miller, and actually Rush Limbaugh (who was just a talking head on a pre-game before he got himself canned), is the lack of focus. Miller would drag anything into his commentary, and Limbaugh could not keep his political bent from coming out in his commentary. One thing the former athletes have going for them is that they just want to talk about the sport. He is a terrible commentator, but you would never know that Dan Dierdorf is a member of a far left political party from anything he says on TV. I never got to watch Tony Kornheiser, so I don't what happened with that experiment.

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:02pm

Kornheiser makes really lame jokes. I think the ultimate Kornheiser lameness was when he did the Manning puppet bit on the pre-game show. I got a 2nd hand awkwardness overload from that particular piece of television.

by Duke :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 4:22am

I think Kornheiser just doesn't work in larger doses. The half hour (well, 22 minutes) he does for PTI is fine. If I recall correctly, when he was doing MNF he was also doing some pre-game and post-game work too. That's like four hours of schtick. It ran pretty thin.

by mehllageman56 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:55pm

I hosted a poetry radio show last night, and completely forgot a poet's name (not the one reading in the room). Being accurate and coherent can be tough. Not dropping an curse word into the broadcast, that's generally pretty easy. The best way to be an effective announcer is to prepare more, which may explain why Marv Albert made so many mistakes, since he announces NBA games as well during the week.

by Travis :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:06pm

I honestly think Marv is just getting too old for football play-by-play, like Marty Glickman or Keith Jackson did. He's missing things like fumbles and penalty calls, not just misidentifying players or tripping over words. (He's still pretty good at basketball play-by-play, though. Maybe the press box is too far away from the field?)

by Dennis :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 6:17pm

I agree. A lot of announcers, like players, don't know when it's time to hang it up. Jack Buck was another one who hung around too long.

by Anonymous Jones :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:21pm

This would have lost all credibility if Dierdorf didn't finish as worst color guy.

Just as background, I usually think all announcers are overly criticized. It's a hard job!

That said, I literally have to mute it when Dierdorf is one of the announcers. And when I say literally, I literally mean "literally." Remote-->mute-->peace, which is annoying because he does a lot of Chargers games.

Dierdorf has this special concoction of nails-on-a-chalkboard ideas that seem to have been marinated in stupidity. Why is he still employed?

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:26pm

I believe he's retiring after this year, so at least that's something. I'd like to think that his replacement will be better, but time has made me cynical.

by Bjorn Nittmo :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 2:32pm

Perhaps the author included these in factual errors or cliches, but I hope he included instances of mindless concurrence with terrible coaching decisions (eg, 'they'll be forced to punt", "they need to get some points on the board", etc), primarily not questioning horribly overly conservative moves. As a (positive) example, I recently saw on Youtube video of the end of the Giants-49ers NFC Championship Game from 1990; as time was winding down, the Giants were approaching the Niners 20-yard line, down 1 point, and John Madden actually said "you know, the Giants should throw a pass here." I was amazed by this simple, correct insight, since I don't think otherwise I've ever heard any announcer question the ridiculously conservative shell almost every coach crawls into when they get into less-than-50-yard range when a field goal will win the game.

by Travis :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:04pm

Nantz and Simms were advocating that the Dolphins should punt on 4th and 5 down 3 with 3 minutes left this week. Once the play succeeded, they didn't say anything positive or negative about the decision, but I'm sure they would have had it failed.

Other irritating announcer tics unmentioned in the article:

1) Venerating team owners, especially Bob Kraft. This is primarily a Nantz problem.

2) Making up unfunny/uninteresting nicknames that no one else has or ever will use. Hoping against hope that someone hires Gruden after next Monday.

3) Being unable to go away from the pre-determined script, or at least smoothly work it into the broadcast without it being obvious. Again, Gruden and Tirico.

4) Being hauled out as an expert after spectacularly failing at a similar role in football. See David Cutaia (ESPN's college football officiating guru) or Matt Millen.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:17pm

Even though I seem to recall that Millen's pre-GM days in the booth were pretty good, at this point, even non-Lion fans must hear his name as "and Matt Millen, worst GM in modern NFL history".

I think of things like "the living incarnation of the 'stopped clock' principle'" and such.

by NYMike :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:53pm

Madden was great when he started. Towards the end of his career, he fell into the trap of not being able to adjust if the game didn't go the way he expected it to. So if the "book" on the Chargers (or whomever) was that weak line play was going to doom their running game, Madden would whip that angle like a rented mule (oops, cliche) even if the Chargers were running the ball effectively. I think John got tired of doing games, and was wise to retire.

by Andy (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:15pm

Buck could be 100% accurate & cliche free, but he's still an arrogant a-hole who I (& others judging by the comments) can't stand listening to). Personally, I don't give any of them a break (unless it's some natural speaking flub, or if they return & correct themselves) - it's THEIR JOB (for 3hrs a week), they should get it right. ESPECIALLY regarding when commenting on player talent/production - because if fans like us can stay informed with advanced stats from places like FO or PFF, they have no excuse.

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:18pm

Exactly! It is inexcusable that they can't do simple research. Wish I got paid to do that, I do it for free already.

by TomC :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 3:24pm

I am probably alone in this opinion, but during the moments when I don't actively want to punch Gruden, I find his insights quite interesting. For instance, twice during the first half last night, he pointed out Reggie Bush motioning out wide to create an empty backfield and correctly predicted that the Ravens' MLB (D. Smith) would then audible to a blitz (once showing on a replay how Smith actually ran over to the Will backer and brought him into one of the A gaps). I love that kind of stuff and don't get it from most analysts. It's almost enough to put up with the "this guy here" crap.

Oh, and I almost lost a mouthful of lunch with "Howzerwitz." Wilcots is awesome(ly terrible).

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:56pm

No, I completely agree on Gruden. It's taken me a long time to learn to tune out the bombast, but I am now frequently appreciative of his insight.

I give him a lot of credit. (Sorry.)

by RickD :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:08am

That's a good take on Gruden. He drives me nuts with his tendency to fawn over whoever happens to be on the field at the time. But when he breaks down plays, he does a good job.

by Steve in WI :: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 1:38pm

I agree. I feel like I learn the most about specific plays when I'm watching Gruden compared to any other announcer. And I understand why some people find him incredibly annoying, but I don't, and I actually enjoy his enthusiasm and think he's entertaining.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 4:50pm

I can't believe Joe Buck scored well. I guess from a purely statistical standpoint he's good, but like many others have said, he's such a smug little jerk.

I also can't believe Phil Simms scored as well as he did but mostly because I can't stand him.

I've learned to treat a Dan Dierdorf game like you're visiting an aging grandparent. If you just accept Dan being Dan, it can be a fun, humorous experience.

My favorite DD quote of all time happened a few years ago and my friends and I still laugh about it to this day:

Wow, Lamar Woodley just exploded all over Chad Henne!

by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:02pm

Phil Simms comes in with a low count because his errors take so long. Dan Dierdorf can get it two points about how important the running game is in before Simmms gets past the "And just like we said before" portion of his gaffe.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 3:01am

But did he use the phrase "And our cameraman got the money shot!"

That's a great phrase; I actually enjoy DD. He's far from perfect, but I like him.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:00pm

Joe Buck - Its like the Devil said "fine, you want a play-by-play guy who gets everything right?" Poof - technically perfect play by play with a voice that no one can listen to.

Sunday Night Football's ratings art to Monday Night Football's ratings as SNF's announcers are to MNF's announcers. Coincidence???

by tuluse :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:05pm

No, basic cable vs broadcast tv.

by osoviejo :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:06pm

In 2010, calling the Seahawks at Bears game, Brian Billick came with his prepared talking points in tow. Unfortunately for Billick, he chose to dust off an expired narrative for the Seahawks rather than do actual work.

While looking down on the field where Red Bryant (325 pounds) was playing defensive end and Colin Cole (335 pounds) was at tackle, he "observed" that, "the Seahawks will struggle today with their undersized line."

It was so egregious that yes, it has stuck with me ever since. I couldn't help but wonder exactly how he had prepared to call this game.

About a year later, he was on NFLN's NFC Playbook. In explaining why he was picking against the Seahawks, he dismissed them with a bit of a knowing sneer and this gem: "they have an aging defense." Again, a narrative at least two years old. At the time, the Seahawks had one of the youngest defenses in the league.

I stopped listening to Billick after that.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:59am

Perhaps you were unaware that Billick stands 6-foot thirteen and weighs in at an even 437 lbs.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 5:08pm

I watch too many games with the sound off to have much of an opinion of any of these guys. Yeah, the injury data is sometimes missed, but you also avoid a lot of distraction from stupid yapping. If I could get a spit screen on an 80 inch t.v., half with the regular feed, and the other half with the all-22, I'd never listen to the announcers again. I haven't tried it since t.v. went digital, but I used to be able to get the crowd noise, absent the announcers, on the SAP feed. I don't if I can do that in digtal, but it was a pretty good way to watch a game.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 6:33pm

How about the FOX pregame/halftime show? What a pile of dreck. Who is supposed to be entertained by them guffawing their way through each week?

They have a HOF quarterback, a HOF defensive end, a double Superbowl winning coach and they just serve up a load of lame jokes and clichés. It's infuriating because you know they could do so much better with even a token effort but the network would rather have them perform a lame comedy routine. It's just mindless.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 6:57pm

How many younger fans were unaware that John Madden coached a Super Bowl winner? He was just "boom," 5-legged turkeys and a bunch of stories about his bus. And Jaworski can do a great job breaking down film, but on MNF he was as bad as Gruden with just a bunch of adjectives flying.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:58am

To this day, young turkey chicks have chilling nightmares about the man. Thanksgiving does not haunt them so much as the seven-drumsticked mutants they accidentally saw through Farmer James's kitchen window.

To them, Madden = Frankenstein.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 6:51pm

Glad to see I'm not the only one confused about what Tony Siragusa does. Basically a sideline reporter that randomly gets called upon to do a bit of analysis. And while I've never seen one of his bits actually work well, I think the idea actually could work with the right guy and the proper setup. Not as crowded as three in the booth, but you could get a good story or a different perspective from the outside guy a few times a game. Almost like those guest bits you sometimes see where somebody visits the booth for a little while.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:51am

This is one thing the NHL does really well, with Pierre McGuire stationed at ice level between the two benches.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 5:34pm

They need to do something to rejuvenate the sideline reporter gig because it's just pointless the way it is typically done. A comment from the coach at halftime and after the game and maybe a couple worthless updates that the hurt guy is being looked at by the trainers.

Most of the time they staff it like sex appeal is the primary consideration...but since you almost never see her on camera, it even fails on that narrow level.

by pudds (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 7:00pm

Good stuff.

Clearly this statistical analysis ignores announcer intangibles, however. The math can't adequately measure Joe Buck's complete lack of enthusiasm, evidently.

by Andrew Potter :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 7:49pm

Joe Buck is clearly ranked too high because vulcan androids are more enthusiastic. Muting the television is way better than this. Fox n CBS suxx, NBC FTW!

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:19pm


by Anonymoussss (not verified) :: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 6:59pm

Well done, Mr Potter. (please read in the stuttering voice of Bill Nighy in Harry Potter 7.1)

You got a +1 from zlionsfan!

by Sifter :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 8:52pm

I like Kenny Albert and Moose, shame about Goose. I like Mayock and Nessler. You guys have already summed up Buck and Aikman. They are good on the stat sheet, but ultimately awful to listen to. I guess they are the equivalent of Martyball for announcing, no imagination and play it safe.

Can we also mention sideline reporters? Every time I've seen Pam Oliver this year she has been atrocious. She doesn't have much to say but seems to stuff it up every time.

by RickD :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:11am

Does any sideline reporter add anything? I liked Suzy Kolber when that was her gig, but aside from her, I find nothing of interest from any of them.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:56am

I think they are getting much better--the halftime coach questions on camera are gone (they were less than worthless because these guys have no interest in saying anything useful) but the SL reporters seem to come back after the half with a few good pieces (what the coaches talked about, what players were stretching, or replacing whom in the next series, etc), as well as on the spot injury updates which are helpful.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 5:37pm

That's optimism talking there. I do agree that right after the half is their high point, but even that's usually not very earth-shattering stuff. They could do a game minus the sideline reporter and absolutely nobody would notice.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 5:52am


by dryheat :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:52am

I, for one, do not find Suzy Kolber's boners interesting.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:59am

Pam Oliver got hit in the face by a football before a Colts game. That was hilarious.

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 5:53am

Good- brain billick, ian eagle, dan fouts

Back in,time gerats- Pat summerall, j. Madden, meredith, cosell,,marv "bras" albert, Criqui, charlie jones

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 10:06pm

Wow, I thought it was my undying fanboy love of Ronde Barber that made me think he was doing so well as an analyst. I'm genuinely impressed by him, and it's nice to see him getting some props here. This whole thing reinforces several of my views of the quality of NFL announcers:

-Dan Dierdorf sucks. I mean, everybody knows that, but now he sucks in a vaguely statistically-measured manner. Also, Dan Dierdorf sucks.
-In case you missed that, Dan Dierdorf sucks.
-CBS announcers are worse than Fox; I've always been glad to be an NFC guy, because the AFC announcers have always struck me as far more annoying.
-Gruden needs to go away; his first year I thought he was excellent and provided real analysis and criticism, but then he apparently realized he might want to be a coach again and started avoiding saying anything negative. He showed his first year he could do the job well, and then backed off. Very disappointing, and he does sound insane half the time.
-Mayock and Collinsworth are pretty damn good, all in all.

by Shattenjager :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:09am

Aren't they always best when they first start?

Aikman was a seriously good color guy who has turned into the announcing personification of blandness (which makes him better than most still . . . ). Gruden was at least arguably good for a year and then became, well, we all know. Collinsworth was excellent and thoughtful in spite of having perhaps the worst announcing voice in history* at first but now he's good for one decent insight per game while spending the rest of the time fitting in perfectly with the crowd.

I think it's pretty consistent that announcers come in at their best and then they devolve. They get dumbed down and forced into the typical announcer cliche boxes. Sure, some are terrible from the start, but even those who start off as good announcers fall apart.

*Yes, I know most people think Buck is worse, but I'm practically in pain every time I have to hear Collinsworth speak. I hate his voice in a way that I could not have imagined possible to hate a person's voice had I never heard him speak.

by Jerry :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 5:17am

Some of this is also a matter of familiarity breeding contempt. An obvious example is John Madden: when he first came on the air, all the "BOOM"s as he discussed line play were different. By the end, it seemed like Madden was doing Frank Caliendo doing him.

The other part is that new commentators can bring new insights. The first time you hear someone make a particular point, you may sit up and take notice. By the twentieth, or two hundredth, time, it's become trite.

by BJR :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 9:00am

New guys on the job are more likely to put in hard work and aim to impress. Experienced guys fall into a comfort zone. Same as in most walks of life.

by bravehoptoad :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:46pm

Yeah, I remember when Madden was new and I was young, he did a bit about how other players used the Center's butt towell that was both hilarious and a real picture into NFL culture that fans don't often get.

But how often can you trot out a butt-towell monologue?

by MC2 :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:35pm

Totally agree about Collinsworth. I really have no idea about the quality of his commentary, because every time he opens his mouth, all I can think about is how much I want to puncture my eardrums.

by phlant (not verified) :: Tue, 12/17/2013 - 11:45pm

Anyone remember the blog that used to track all the stupid things Bill Maas used to say during broadcasts? That was probably 4-5 years ago around the time he got busted for drugs and guns. Man was he a terrible color guy....

by ThirdAndEight (not verified) :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:38am

Holy cow. Dierdorf is great. He understands games are won and lost at the line of scrimmage and does more line play analysis than any other 2 color analysts combined. I played QB in college IMA games and did radio broadcasts of high school games (maybe it is different in places like Texas, but where I call home there is no play by play and color in the radio booth for high school football, it is one man wearing every hat). As a former player and former broadcaster (yeah I know, not in the big time), Dierdorf is the guy I most appreciate. No question.

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:53am

I always liked him, as well. He is a goof, verbally, but he never hesitates to say bullshit when a bad play is called or a bad call is made by the refs. "Oh no, I don't agree with that, Bill. I mean, look...." And yes, the trenches stuff. He flubs names and numbers and positions, but they all seem to (just not as much)

by Bobman :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:51am

It's simple: Worst = any announcer who refers to a team's first round draft pick (#22) from five years ago as a number one pick. And any second rounder as a #2, and so on.

Best announcer = all the rest.

Sadly, far as I can tell, that leaves none in the second category, including Michaels, who is pretty careful with his words, and Collinsworth, who is astute when discussing specifics of a play but a jackass what he moves into generalities.

by Guest789 :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 4:45am

I think it's fine when an announcer refers to a player as "The [team's] number one pick".


“Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

by smutsboy :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 6:08am

I really don't mind when announcers take plays off.

I can see the basic action in front of me, a PxP guy doesn't have to validate every play for me.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 9:03am

I think I'm on an island, but did anyone else enjoy the old ESPN SNF three-man crew of Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire?

How much insight did they give? Probably very little, and Joe Theismann was still involved, but they really made no effort to put on a facade of an insightful bunch. They just enjoyed having fun with each other. I don't think I remember any announcing group laughing as much, and not in the sad Dan Dierdorf way.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 9:15am

I hope you're on an island very, very far away. Possibly Bikini Atoll in the 50s. That ESPN crew was a nightmare. Tirico was (and is) certainly OK as a play-by-play guy, but Theismann is up there with Dierdorf and Jerry Glanville as the worst broadcasters ever, and Maguire rambled so much I always wondered whether he'd just wandered off from some convalescent home for people with head injuries and everybody was just too nice to send him back. That was the worst announcing crew of all time, at least when you consider how high-profile and long-running they were.

by Hurt Bones :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:17am

Maguire was pretty good back in the late 80's early 90's for NBC when he was teamed up with Marv Albert. But you're right that ESPN crew yeech!

by James Gibson (not verified) :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:40pm

I am surprised to see Buck on top of the play-by-play. During my time as a game charter (2005 to 2007), I found him particulalrly frustrating. Especially memorable was when he excoriated a team for going for it on 4th down deep in the red zone instead of kicking the FG. After the other team had to punt and then the first team scored a TD. He said, "see they'd have had 10 points now instead of 7," when it was the field position that helped result in that TD anyway.

by 60-O (not verified) :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 2:56pm

I am 60 years old, been watching the NFL since the mid 60's and I been muting them all since the mid 80s. I am thankful for remote control and the only time I listen is when there is a disputed call. For as Joe Buck is concerned, and I am from his hometown St. Louis. His dad, Jack, and Hank Stram used to do a great job on Monday night football on the radio, we would turn down the T.V. and listen to them on the radio as we watched, avoiding Cosell. Joe may have picked up his father's genes for baseball, but the best part of his NFL genes must have ran down the side of his daddy's legs.

by Theo :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 7:30pm

Mayock? Good? Really?
Am I confused with someone else, I'm not that good with commentary guys, but that guy sounds as if he's 8?! Not only with sound, but with content.
He's beyond unbearable. He'd be bad for WWE commentary standards.

by dryheat :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:33pm

I do not think that name identifies who you think it identifies.

by Theo :: Wed, 12/18/2013 - 8:32pm

I think most of them use cliches or factual wrong assertions because their job is also to make the viewer feel like they're right. They need to befriend the viewer somehow.
People in general don't want someone to tell them they're wrong - they'll think the announcer is a smart-ass if he comes in and tells them they've been wrong all along.

They dumb it down and are positive towards the IQ of the general population. And as we all know - about half the people are dumber than that.

Announcers want to throw in a cliche here and there, because people recognize that. A human mind gets a boost of joy with recognition and validation. "Yeah you see! They SHOULD run on first down! That's smashmouth football baby!! Show some heart!"

Announcing is balancing a line between being factual plus insightful and telling the people what they want to hear.

by There is no Santa Claus (not verified) :: Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:44pm

Psst...Marv is Kenny's father, not brother. Kenny does have a brother, Steve who used to announce boxing.

by miles (not verified) :: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 1:43pm

Tallying the bad without recognizing the good is a terrible way to rank announcers. I would rather have someone say 10 inane things and one brilliant insight to someone who just says 5 bits on nonsense.

Harpo Marx would have won this contest.

by Jerry :: Fri, 12/20/2013 - 8:16pm

This article is exactly what it claims to be: a count of utterances that bother the author. If you, or anybody else, want to define and count "good" statements by announcers, go ahead.

by prof pat (not verified) :: Sun, 12/29/2013 - 10:55pm

Marv Albert has to be the worst announcer. He can't see, plus, he doesn't understand the rules. He call a pass an interception while the ball is laying on the ground.

In the Kansas City vs. San Diego game he has no concept of how overtime works. SD had the ball first and he is saying they are setting up to kick a field goal to win the game. With SD up 3 in overtime he is saying KC is playing for a field goal.