TV Commentator Rankings
From the best to the worst of the NFL announcers
Posted: Thursday February 7, 2008 12:25PM; Updated: Thursday February 7, 2008 10:19PM
Here's an old rule of thumb I just made up: Never write a critical column about NFL announcers when you're in an ugly mood because every little annoyance will be magnified beyond reasonable proportions. Thus, as I spent the last two days going through the notes I meticulously made during the season, all the old resentments came back, the sneers, the head-banging frustrations, the wonderment at how we can stand still for the unbelievable barrage of crapola to which we've been subjected.
"Here's the story line."
"Coach, what did you tell them at halftime?"
"It's time for smashmouth football."
"You've got to win the battle up front."
Each one of these idiotic clichés is a blade under my fingernail, and usually I just shrug and move on; but after many years of this stuff has turned me so bitter that I can hardly live with myself, it's time to take a stand. Thus what you will get is an announcers rating column, the Tenth Annual, I believe, or maybe Tenth Animal, that will make up for a lack of balance by its grossly unfair nature. Sorry, can't help it. This dark mood just won't go away.
None. Last year's only five-star team, ESPN's second unit, was broken up. Dick Vermeil is tending to his beautiful vineyards in Calistoga, Brad Nessler is back in college and Ron Jaworski ... ah, this is a new, corporate, center stage Jaws who makes me want to cry. More about that later. A lot more.
Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan, Fox
How good is Ryan? Well, how many analysts will tell you who the good BLOCKERS are on kickoff returns? Arizona-Washington -- "Watch Lorenzo Alexander reject Jerheme Urban out of the wedge ..." Kaboom! A former superstar is slipping, he'll tell you about it. The Seahawks' Walter Jones gets stuffed by Cleveland's Robaire Smith on a running play: "You wonder about Walter Jones," says Ryan, who, unlike most of his brethren, does not blindly plug the stars. The Browns' line goes unbalanced on a play, he catches it immediately. He and Rosen routinely will call penalties before the flags are dropped. Rosen is meticulous about telling you who's on the field, when a team goes into a different personnel grouping. There are snappers, too. The Saints' Reggie Bush loses ground, trying to put on a fancy move. "Think four and you'll get more," Ryan mutters. In his and Sam's case, four and a half.
Ron Pitts and Tony Boselli, Fox
Al Michaels and John Madden, NBC
NFL Network crew: Cris Collinsworth, Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk, Tom Hammond, Bryant Gumbel
I've also heard them when their scouting report might not have been as incisive, or maybe they hadn't been paying as close attention to it. Deion made a big point of a delay penalty, coming out of a timeout, in the Steelers-Rams game. No, the penalty was motion. "Just put it up and give your receiver a chance," he advises Big Ben, even though his receiver, Santonio Holmes, was tightly covered. Then a mysterious rip of Rams coach Scott Linehan -- "When all is said and done, Scott, just think about that third and short. He should have gone for it" (It was fourth and six). At other times Deion is just silly, usually when he lets his monumental ego take over.