Believe it, friends: Super Bowl week is upon us.
Now I know it feels like you’re just getting over last year’s Super Bowl hangover. (If it really feels like that, it’s because you’re old and work full time — I know this because I’m old and work full time.) But if you’re like me (please don’t be), the anticipation has already started to boil over for the booze and crappy food-fest that has become Super Sunday. Last year, I drank/ate myself into some kind of food-borne illness. This year: the world is my oyster.
And as ESPN continues to run Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu’s hair-off as the lead story each day leading up to America’s Favorite Unofficial Holiday, it’s time for me to start talking about the real issues. No, this will not be a column about gambling (even though I am going to be taking the Steelers and the points), this is a column about the game itself and how it’s presented to us. This column is going to be about sportscasters and how much they suck. Let’s do it.
I got into the idea for writing this the other day, as I was doing some thinking (probably in the shower, where I do my best thinking) about which network had Super Bowl coverage this year. The real question was whose golden, blue-ribbon voice and 10-cent witticisms would my buddies and I get to rip on for 3 hours. And then it dawned on me…it just didn’t matter.
While I do probably prefer Fox’s 1-2 punch of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to say Dan Dierdorf ($&#*@), the truth is they’re not great either. Nobody is. And as much as I hate to admit it, they ‘re a huge part of how we experience the game. While they may be the lame guides who feel the need to escort us around the sidewalk by our house, network sportscasters are still our guides through the game. They’re the sights and sounds. They’re Uncle and Joe and Troy who just got out of prison. (Maybe less of that). But either way, they’re important. So, with that being said, do they really have to be so out of touch? And why does it have to be this bad? Here’s what I’m thinking:
1. It’s the fact that the network sportscaster, and the iconic voices of yesteryear that live in so many middle-aged fans’ hearts and minds, is dead…or at least dated. This wholesome figure that ESPN, NBC, CBS, and FOX continue to throw at us every Sunday and Monday during football season — you know, the one that just mentioned that it’s four-down-territory as a team drives with 59 seconds left, down by 5 — isn’t for us. We know too much. The obvious shinfo (sh***y + info) that gets tossed around to explain what’s happening each down isn’t for a generation with internet or that grew up with ESPN. We already know about forward progress and the Tuck Rule. And if we don’t, we can immediately look it up.
And along those lines (sort of), just because you’re an ex-player, does not mean you bring a lot (or anything) to the TV table. As a Giants fan, it gives me post-Taco Bell nausea to watch Phil Simms walk all over his hero-status in New York. The phrase “Simms, you are tarnishing your legacy” has been used so frequently in my home, it’s been fully replaced by a deep throaty sigh, followed by a round of swear words. Just so you know, Phil, I’m watching the game, so I can see that the ball is close to the yellow line. Oh and Phil, I also know the yellow line is unofficial. Because you told me 12 seconds ago (sigh).
2. They’re too un-self-aware. It just so happened that NBC’s “B” squad, who had the Saints-Seahawks 1st round shocker, featured a man named Mike Mayock doing the color commentary. Now what was great about Mike was not the fact that he was formerly a 10th-round draft pick and only spent a few years in the league. Mike was great because he has an extremely strong lisp. And because, as comedic irony would have it, the starting quarterbacks in that game were none other than “Drew Breeth” and “Matt Hathelbeck.” Now I know it’s cruel (and I apologize to any folks who have suffered through speech impediments in the past), but I have to say, it was phenomenal. The fact that 3 hours of “Marthawn Lynch” went by without any comment on it was almost uncomfortable. Uncomfortable and hilarious. Unfortunately for Mike, we were not laughing with him.
3. The third reason why sportscasters are so terrible isn’t a reason at all. It’s a person. And his name is Dan Dierdorf. The first five hits that came up when I Google’d “Dan Dierdorf sucks” are as follows: “Awful Announcing,” “God! I Hate Dan Dierdorf,” “I Hate Dan Dierdorf — Baltimore Sun Talk Forum,” “The Wisdom of Dan Dierdorf,” and my favorite, the elegantly simple “Dan Dierdorf Sucks.” If you’re a fan of Dierdorf and would like a reason to dislike him, feel free to hit the video below. I wouldn’t be surprised if this commercial was filmed last week. Thank God it wasn’t.
My plan for the future: We get people that sound like real people in the booth. Guys with talent, guys who know their stuff, guys who are willing to comment on both the game and themselves (c’mon Bill Simmons). Call it a counter-movement and market it to the kids (“This isn’t your daddy’s sportscaster!!!”). It’s impossible to deny that sports, at this point, has become just as much entertainment as it is competition. So let’s get some guys that add to the entertainment factor. To be honest, I just want to to hear a couple of non-cheesy jokes about guys with dreads (and not something like “Steven Jackson’s last rush was just about as long as his hair”). ‘Cause guys with dreads are awesome.
And that’s all there is to it. Happy Super Bowl, folks. Stay safe.
The Official Pick: Steelers +3 parlayed with the under (45). Put down $100 to make $236.50.
CJ Aquilino is a guy who likes football more than any out-of-shape young white man should. He currently has two years left of NCAA eligibility. Read his HV archive here.