Ranking the NFL Playoff announcers from worst to first
USA Today Sports recently released their rankings of the announcers working the NFL Playoffs, and while I agreed with some of their selections, I felt I had to do my own ranking to make myself feel better about life itself.
For the second straight year, a record four networks will air playoff games, with CBS (5), Fox (3), NBC (2) and ESPN (1) all broadcasting over the next month. Because there’s only one weekend in which a network is airing multiple games (CBS in the divisional playoffs), it’ll be each network’s A-teams on the call in 10 of the 11 games.
Worst- 10. Phil Simms (CBS) (USA Today Ranking: 10)
The one USA Today and myself agree on. Bottom line, Simms offers little to the ‘color’ side of announcing. I can turn on a game of Madden and get the same insight he delivers in a real game. My ears tend to ring when I watch a game Simms calls, and I am dreading Super Bowl 50 on CBS due to the fact Simms will be present the entire time.
9. Dan Fouts (CBS) (USA Today Ranking: 3)
Fouts, who managed to pull off a ‘3rd best’ ranking on USA Today, comes in as the second worst announcer in the playoff field. I sometimes wonder if he is watching the same game as myself when he either stays quiet through a multitude of plays or completely botches what just happened. I remember a Chargers game from last season in which he actually said, “Wow, Donald Brown just looked like the second-coming of Ladanian Tomlinson after that run.” Never should those two players be mentioned in the same sentence in that manner ever again.
8. Troy Aikman (FOX) (USA Today Ranking: 8)
Now as a life-long Cowboys fan, I do not mind Aikman’s calls, but I can understand the public not being on the Aikman bandwagon. While he has improved, Troy lacks the true “color” needed in the broadcast booth. He rarely makes mistakes, but offers little more than re-stating what just happened on TV.
7. Joe Buck (FOX) (USA Today Ranking: 4)
As Aikman’s partner in the booth, it is surprising FOX’s No. 1 crew is in the bottom third of our rankings. Buck, who is the play-by-play voice of virtually every sport has definitely improved since he took over for the legendary Pat Summerall in 2002, but still leaves a lot to be desired. His lack of passion and monotone voice can become background noise if you aren’t paying attention clearly. Case-in-point David Tyree’s amazing Super Bowl catch; it sounds like Buck just awoke from a nap in time to say what happened.
6. Jim Nantz (CBS) (USA Today Ranking: 5)
“Hello friends” is synonymous with Nantz but being in the booth with Simms severely hurts his likability. Nantz who clearly enjoys calling games, is the master of cliché’s and almost talks down to the everyday fan watching. Nantz should stick to calling Golf, because his whisper voice is less annoying.
5. Mike Tirico (ESPN) (USA Today Ranking: 7)
The ESPN do-it-all commentator has had to deal with many personalities in the booth, from Tony Kornheiser to the terrible Joe Theisman, and has remained professional throughout it all. He has been an integral part in helping Jon Gruden become one of the most enjoyable color analysts on TV and will not hide his feelings on air. Earlier this season his take on the NFL officiating was a refreshing stance saying, “What a screwed-up night of plays and officiating this was. Wow.” He went on to bash the officiating even more saying it is hard to watch the NFL when they refs continue to mess up. That type of honesty earns a lot of respect from viewers.
4. John Gruden (ESPN) (USa Today Ranking: 9)
Gruden has become one of my favorites to watch and listen to during a broadcast. Despite MNF having terrible matchups seemingly weekly, Gruden’s out-going personality makes these games fun to watch. His partner Mike Tirico plays into Gruden all game long, creating a relationship between the two the shines on the silver screen. Gruden’s facial expressions are gold and every time the camera cuts to the duo, it is can’t miss television. His knowledge of the game is the highest of anyone on this list, and he continues to improve the ways he conveys that to the audience.
3. Al Michaels (NBC) (USA Today Ranking 1A)
A true legend, Al Michael’s epitomizes what it is to be a play-by-play man, he understands the flows of the game better than anyone, knowing when to call, when to stop, when to listen, when to ask and when to make random tidbits public knowledge. One downfall I have noticed to Michaels is his love for the point spreads, even getting testy on-air during the Pro Bowl when a return touchdown late in the game ruined his pick against the spread. Keep it to yourself man.
2. Cris Collinsworth (NBC) (USA Today Ranking: 1B)
Cris Collinsworth is generally regarded as the best color analyst in the game of football, and it is simple to see. Collinsworth understands the game, from watching film, to diagnosing what is happening in front of his eyes. He then articulates that to the public in terms that they can easily understand. There really is no one better.
1. Ian Eagle (CBS) (USA Today Ranking: 6)
Yes, this one might shock you. But if you actually listen to the games Eagle calls, it is clear he is an up-and-coming star who hasn’t fully been recognized yet. To start the season, CBS promoted Eagle and partner Dan Fouts to their “B” team meaning they are CBS’ second-best broadcast team. While his star-power is not present and likely the reason he is not more popular, Eagle is enthusiastic and can explain what is happening in the game even when cameras aren’t in the right place. At age 47, I expect Eagle to be around for a long time, continuing to garner attention.
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