Editor’s note: The following ridiculously lengthy rant was intended as the conclusion of this week’s “Not Your Average College Recap” but we feared the internet was going to run out of space. Ergo, it gets its own post.
A CLOSING RANT ON BAD ANNOUNCERS
By Bob Gaughan and Mr. Brutal
Sean McDonough called last week’s Stanford/UCLA game. He gave his astute thoughts on a number of non-game issues with his usual “monotone from a detuned megaphone” voice in his usual laconic, bored, trifling & condescending manner. Most interesting was the issue of the official renaming of the offensive coordinator job on the Stanford football team as the “Andrew Luck Director of Offense”. (We’re not kidding.)
This is because an anonymous donor paid for this endowment, which is a strange Stanford practice throughout the positions of coaching & management in the athletic department– although this is the first time the position was named after an ex-player rather than an ex-coach or athletic directors. This could lead to trouble as I’m sure John Elway’s ego will want one now, too. And the position of “John Elway Quarterback Coach” would seem so sub rank to Luck’s endowment. I’m sure “John Elway Equestrian, Dressage & Stable-master Manager” would substitute nicely.
Regardless, career brown-noser McDonough then went into some lovely praise of the new “playoff committee” and Condoleezza Rice’s appointment to it– and then later a long, convoluted explanation praising Andrew Luck for everything from his modesty, to his study habits, to his taste in footwear, to his hygienic kitchen food preparation practices… but he wouldn’t stop there. Then he declared that Andrew Luck should have won the Heisman– not once, but twice(!) … and that he was robbed both times, but especially by Robert Griffin III two years ago, then he declared: “Not only was Andrew a far superior player to RG III in college, but he has proven that as a fact by being a far better pro right now in the NFL!”
Now, I love when the usually mundane announcer droids actually offer an opinion about something because they sure don’t offer many good jokes, anecdotes or funny stories anymore. Especially the color commentators, who have all become incessant humanoid ticker tape machines constantly spewing a surfeit of statistics, numbers and meaningless factoids and then periodically jumping up on little soap boxes to pontificate dower, predictable & exaggerated company line positions on the obvious, the indefensible and the unassailable– all served up with a surplus of Chicken Little exaggeration & self righteous moral indignation.
Of course, McDonough offered no facts or numbers to back up his opinion– don’t know if he knows a damn thing about RG III’s outstanding year at Baylor or of what relevance his theory of current NFL play has regarding judging previous college performance as pertaining to previous Heisman voting. He acted like he had bet his lunch money on Luck for the Heisman both years, and the petty temper tantrum he threw during the broadcast of this game shows that loss hasn’t quite been put to rest just yet.
And, of course, during this bizarre little hissy fit his broadcast partner was as silent & forthcoming as a cigar store Indian.
Sean McDonough sounded like a jilted suitor… or maybe he’s trying to brown nose for his own future– like maybe get Condy Rice to hear him & get him some appointment or endowment of his own at Stanford. But it’s no surprise that Sean McDonough is the ultimate supporter of his own self-interest & a steadfast corporate player.
We remember a few years ago when the destruction of college football started with the rape of athletic conferences by bigger conferences and the concertina chain reaction effect, devastation & even extinction of some of the smaller conferences. The Big East was about to start its journey down the drain of disappearance with Virginia Tech, Miami & Boston defecting to the ACC.
During a long rain delay of a Boston College football game, McDonough’s (he was the home broadcaster for the Eagles Radio Network & usually did them when they were on Network TV ) announcing partner at that time opined that the upcoming “Outlaw Biker Club Patch-Over” of these teams to the ACC from the Big East was only motivated by greed & was hypocrisy practiced at its worst by the ACC & the useless NCAA, predicting that it would really screw up a lot of the other sports at the schools, and any shred of moral credibility the universities, the conference or the governing body ever possessed was now gone.
Sean McDonough looked visibly uneasy with this on-camera criticism and said he begged to differ. He revealed that he had spoken with the Dean of Boston College earlier in the week, and he had explained to Sean that this was not true– that money & sports were not the main reasons this transfer was being done. He said that joining the ACC would allow Boston College to more easily cooperate with schools like Virginia Tech on joint research efforts for academic purposes that would benefit both schools, and this was the “main” reason for joining the ACC,
When his partner said he highly doubted that, McDonough laconically replied:
“Well I’m just telling you what the Dean of Boston College said. I mean, he should know. There are lots of academic reasons for this switch that supersede sports or money.”
Right, Sean. And if you take a couple more of those b******t pills every day, I’m sure you’ll start growing hair on your head.
I’m sure Sean is just doing some thoughtful career planning for the hopefully sooner than later day when he is ultimately dropped from major network broadcasting for his growing & ever seeming disinterest in the actual events on the field and his (obvious to the viewers) terminal case of boredom resistant to all football excitement antibiotics.
When the end comes, he will hopefully have kissed enough hometown Beantown tush that he can still be the play-by-play radio announcer for the Boston College Eagles football team or, if that doesn’t materialize, the web blogger correspondent for the Boston University Terriers women’s badminton team.
On a positive note, we always liked his father, the late Will McDonough, who was anything but a corporate/institutional apologist during his days as a journalist.
Meet the other introductory members of the “SMARMY, SMUG, SUPERCILIOUS, SANCTIMONIOUS, PATRONIZING, CONTEMPTUOUS, CONDESCENDING FOOTBALL ANNOUNCER HALL OF FAME”.
Although we’re pretty sure Dan is probably a nice guy, he still can’t wait to ascend to his pulpit at least once every game & dive into another tedious, sanctimonious diatribe like:
“I’m all for hard-hitting football, but there’s no place in the game for late hits like that!” Then he will reiterate this point endlessly while offering no new facts or information.
He’s given that same speech for decades, always addressing his concern only towards obvious plays, topics or issues that fit into the safe, small enclosure of NFL interests that are pre-approved by the head office for the announcing booth to engage in one-sided mock debate. He’s not a details man. He misses all sorts of action on the field, seldom questions referee’s decisions or bad play calls unless they are egregious and the crowd reaction gives him no choice but to cheer-lead along. He seldom offers any stories or relevant insight from his playing days He also appears to have the cognitive depth of an Arsenio Hall monologue.
It goes without saying that anyone who listened to Matt on television before his eight year long sabbatical as the President & CEO of the Detroit Lions wondered aloud how anyone could believe this self absorbed ex-linebacker/cave dweller could run an NFL Franchise.
It also goes without saying that after listening to Matt upon his return to the broadcast booth after his firing by the Lions that one still wonders aloud how anyone could believe this self absorbed ex-linebacker/cave dweller could run an NFL Franchise.
Well, Lions’ owner William Clay Ford somehow did, just from listening to Matt on Sunday NFL telecasts. He thought that he would be the savior to resurrect his long suffering team. It was a complete disaster,
While not wishing to speculate on the mental health issues that might have plagued the elderly Mr. Ford’s brain, he may have been confused about Millen’s education & thought that Matt attended the Wharton School of Business at Penn University and not the Remedial General Arts School for Scholarship Athletes at Penn State.
Regardless, Ford thought Matt could be more than just a typical unqualified ex-athlete general manager– he could be a grossly under qualified president & CEO. The hiring of Millen appeared to be a glass Trojan horse– an obvious trap to anyone with eyesight & common sense showing the destruction that awaited within. It was interpreted differently by Mr. Ford.
Matt now toils in the booth again– clenched fists, curled lip, the barely restrained & constant anger in his voice, the audible sound of his grinding teeth, a constant frown. He looks & sounds like he is about to have a brain aneurysm from trying to concentrate so hard on the game he’s watching. This is so that his mind doesn’t wander off to those Utopian days in the Motor City when he was barking orders at the shivering underlings from his Allen Park Suite.
Millen is a man with a point to prove, damn it!– obviously trying harder than ever to show the NFL community & listening public, through his self satisfying brilliant analysis of the game, that he is as smart as anyone else when it comes to football But it always feels like he is going to crack a piston, blow a rod or explode an artery with the strain on his brain that the viewers at home can sense in his overwrought & over-thought observations of the mundane and the irrelevant.
“Baldy” is a real treat in the broadcast booth, combining the worst aspects of Dierdorf & Millen with some unique characteristics and a style all his own– kind of like a truck stop bouncer trying to read Shakespeare while breaking up a fight.
The best moment of any broadcast is when he and his partner appear on screen briefly to discuss some aspect of the game, and his partner goes into a longer than normal description of some innocuous aspect of the game but uses a couple of three syllable or larger words as Brian struggles to ascertain the meaning.
As his eyes glaze over, his defense mechanism is to start nodding his head in a trained manner reminiscent of Mr. Ed, drooling unconsciously & uttering very loudly: “Uh Huh! Uh Huh! Uh Huh! I can see that!”
Soon after, he will truck back into his own schizophrenic broadcasting style, plucking a little Dierdorf from his trick bag, demonstrating he isn’t a Neanderthal by disagreeing with the legality of some hard hit while simultaneously declaring how much he misses playing the game & getting smacked in the mouth and tasting his own blood.
We really miss this ass. Although his HBO Show “Real Sports” is one of the finest sports investigative shows ever, 95% of that credit goes to the producers & the excellent investigators that are employed to do the actual stories.
Bryant functions as kind of a posing, judging, overseer, providing pseudo-erudite narration to introduce the stories. At the end of the segments, he barely feigns his patented “sincerity” in asking the journalists a couple of prepared, pithy questions. He sits behind a studio desk posing as an all-seeing oracle, nodding knowingly, with his finger strategically propped to his lips, as if contemplating the deeper issues the story has stirred in the great man’s over-sized brain while simultaneously considering how they could relate to his upcoming contributions to mankind in solving the riddle of cold fusion.
This segment serves to give the “thumbs up” approval to the reporter’s efforts only if they satisfactorily satisfy his counterfeit concern– and also so he can stick his pouting, mopey mug on the screen after each story so we don’t forget who the star is and whose show this really is.
The “Real Sports” Journalists all look uncomfortable sitting across the desk from him– kind of like being called down to the principal’s office for some minor indiscretion but realizing the egomaniac facing you has the power to boot you out the door if you so much as smirk the wrong way at his lame jokes or you break some unwritten Gumbel protocol & don’t address Mother Superior by name properly in prefacing your answers.
When this twit came back to his sports roots and did play-by-play announcing during the first season of the NFL Network it was a real treat. Being paired with Chris Collinsworth was especially chemistry-less, as each man tried to outdo the other and demonstrate to the viewers who least wanted to be at the game and who had the most contempt for it while simultaneously dropping some “pearls of pigskin wisdom” on the peons who were listening.
Bryant spent most of the time during the broadcasts talking about himself. He incessantly name dropped– all the famous and important people he had worked with/interviewed/chums around with at celebrity Mensa meetings, his great accomplishments, his versatility, all the places he has worked and visited, his multiple awards, his previous record dollar amount contracts– always wanting you to realize that he was once the highest paid journalist/announcer in America and could easily be again, but something that prosaic & humdrum wouldn’t satisfy his inner self at this point in his life pilgrimage.
By inference, he was doing this broadcast for fun & to help the great unwashed by treating them to a three hour session of listening to him pontificate & enlighten upon something that is usually beneath him at this point in his divinity-guided career arc: “American Football”.
He seemed least interested in the actual football game that was taking place and was always behind in calling the play. He never had the players’ numbers right or seemed to care. He appeared to have done zero homework before the game, as if that was beneath him.
We mere mortals should have just been happy that this scion of the modern American renaissance man had sacrificed his personal pursuits on these Thursday evenings to accompany and guide us in getting our football fix. We should all bow down to the prince, because we peasants all know he had better things he would rather be doing like sitting in his upper west side Manhattan Park Avenue penthouse polishing his 17th Moroccan Century Ivory Chess Set while receiving a pedicure from his personal cosmetologist or attending a society page gala at some Greenwich Village soiree for the pretentious poseurs with whom he prefers to hang.
In future weeks, expect Hall of Fame considerations: Randy Cross, Todd Christensen, Phil Simms, Jon “Child’s Play” Gruden, Gary Danielson and “thank goodness he’s gone from Thursday Night ESPN Games to be some Texas stooge Tea Party rubberstamp llat-Earth politician & helicopter dad all-star” Craig James.
Of course, there are dozens of other candidates, but many of them are just dense, dull, personality-challenged & un-entertaining– but not malicious in their disdain. For example:
To be fair to Troy, he probably isn’t a really bad guy either and he did suffer a lot of concussions during his playing career, although we’re not sure they affect IQ in any great way. He’s also much better at announcing than when he started,which is probably faint praise– like saying Barack Obama may be sharper than George W. Bush.
When some simple thought dawns on Troy, you can almost see the light bulb appear above his head as he points his finger at the ceiling like the absent-minded genius from the Disney comic books “Gyro Gearloose”.
We’ll never forget the time while doing a game in Cleveland that he queried his partner as to the name of the big beautiful lake that he saw bordering the city while being driven to the stadium from the airport. When his partner asked if he was joking and if he had never played in Cleveland before, he answered that he wasn’t joking and he also wasn’t sure if he had played in Cleveland before.
“Well Troy, it’s the same lake that Buffalo is on, one of our Great Lakes– Lake Erie.”
After an awkward pause, Aikman replied that he knew his leg was being pulled and that wasn’t true– because he had played or broadcast in Buffalo before and there was no lake there as he remembered the stadium was located in farmland with apple trees around it.