Every once in a while it's good to have a little fun, and that's all this post is. ESPN understands this, which is why it paraded out Chris Berman to call the second leg of its Monday Night Football doubleheader in Week 1.
If you don't think ESPN placed Berman in the booth as a little "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" to the anti-Berman crowd, you're crazy.
Sure, the lifelong ESPN personality just re-upped his contract with the Worldwide Leader, and yes, this was a longtime make-good for Berman being the top studio guy who has never been able to call any real, live NFL action (other than a preseason warmup this year).
But someone, somewhere inside the walls of ESPN, had to be in on this gag—obviously trolling those of us who hop onto the Internet to react with indignation and frustration whenever we hear a kooky catchphrase, nickname or ill-timed reference to a generation long since passed.
If you don't think that Berman is aware we exist, you're sadly mistaken as well. The man called his game "Monday Night Football: The Caboose Edition" twice within the first 10 minutes of the game. The "caboose" edition? He's just screaming for us to make "more like the ass edition" jokes, right?
That's why he did that, right? Right?!?
In truth, Berman wasn't bad. He was just...Berman. He was more subdued in the first quarter than he was in the last, getting more comfortable as the game moved along. I was actually a bit surprised he didn't overreact to big plays early in the game, perhaps attributable to making sure he got the call right (something more announcers should do).
Later in the game, he did get a little more "Bermanny" with fourth-quarter calls like, "...it was Donald Butler again. The Butler did it, in the conservatory, with the lead pipe."
At this point, you either like Berman's style or you don't, and no "boom" or "whoop" or silly play-on-words is going to change anyone's opinion one way or the other. The team of Berman and Trent Dilfer won't be winning any sports Emmy awards after Monday night's game, but one can make the case they were better than ESPN's previous gimmick of Mike and Mike (and Mike) calling the Monday night Week 1 closer in previous years.
Make no mistake—calling a live sporting event is much different from reading a teleprompter or hosting a football studio show. Berman has called a ton of baseball games and golf tournaments, so it's not like he was new to a live event. He was much better than some Internet trolls had hoped.
Still, here is a list of completely and utterly random celebrities ESPN should think about giving a Monday night game to. And ESPN, please don't wait until next year's season opener to hire one of these people. We'd be happy to have any of them take the place of Jon Gruden right now.
Let's have some fun.
Adam West has a fantastic voice and a dry wit, and he always stays calm under pressure.
Plus, the greatest Batman of all time (sorry, Christian Bale) has resurrected his career with hilarious spots on Family Guy and other grownup cartoon shows.
Of course, it would be best if he called the game as Batman. Burt Ward has to be better than Trent Dilfer.
Sam Jackson is one of those Hollywood megastars who really knows sports and would be great calling a game in an NFL booth.
To be fair, he would probably be better as an analyst than a paint-by-numbers play-by-play guy, but however we can get Jackson in the booth, we should try.
This can't be disappointing.
ESPN tried Dennis Miller. It tried Tony Kornheiser. Why not try Louis CK?
Of course, the game would probably have to be on a 30-second delay, but there is no hotter comic—shoot, maybe celebrity of any walk of life—who is more popular and beloved than Louie.
There must be so much pressure to be the "it" comic on the planet. Everything you say has to be funny. You cannot afford any mistakes, or someone, somewhere will say that you've lost your touch.
Or you'll end up like Dave Chappelle, going insane and disappearing for a decade. There seems to be no other way out.
Maybe calling football games would be a way out. Louie has some relationship with ESPN, having done The B.S. Report with Bill Simmons a few times. Maybe they can sneak the guy in the booth for a game or two. It could be a hilarious adventure.
Did you know that Ryan Seacrest makes more money than anyone on the planet?
I haven't verified that, but it seems like I'm probably right. The guy is everywhere: TV, radio, the Olympics.
I was with my kid in the hospital last week, and Ryan Seacrest has a makeshift recording studio in the lobby of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, just for sick kids to play and have fun with recording equipment. His name is seriously everywhere.
I never did understand why NBC paid him to be part of its Olympic coverage other than the logic that Seacrest is like a magnet for human interest stories. Could that translate to the NFL booth?
Certainly he doesn't have the style most NFL fans are used to, but I wouldn't doubt that he could do a solid, mistake-free job. He'd be the polar opposite of Louis CK, that's for sure, but he could probably do it.
There hasn't been anything in media the guy can't—or won't—do.
To be fair, Dennis Haysbert's affiliation with Allstate makes him a better fit for a college broadcast booth, but his commercials have become ubiquitous during sports telecasts, so his familiarity with fans would certainly make for an easy transition.
Plus, is there anyone in the world with a better voice right now?
I, for one, would love to hear his dulcet tones call a football game. Or, like the new commercials, ESPN could hire some random guy to mouth the words and have Haysbert do the voice-over.
We've gotten this far in the list without a woman, so why not Oprah Winfrey?
What else is she doing right now? Plus, as you can see in the video, she's excitable.
ESPN spit the bit a few years ago by hiring Rush Limbaugh for its studio show.
That was the worst decision the Worldwide Leader has ever made. Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith doing a daily morning show is a better idea than hiring Rush Limbaugh.
It will never happen again, but if ESPN hired a political analyst, it should have been Bill O'Reilly. The guy is gruff, tough and incredibly opinionated. He's also engaging and knows how to hold an audience if the game ends up being a clunker.
Plus, he knows Tom Brady a little bit!
Speaking of people in politics who speak their mind! How great would Vice President Joe Biden be in the Monday night booth?
Seriously, if the GOP wins this election, ESPN should hire Biden on the spot to finish out the season. Shoot, even if the Democrats win again, what is Biden really doing on Monday nights anyway?
Biden with an open mic during a live sporting event for three hours would be amazing.
I admit this is just a cheap shot squeaked into the list, if only to make the obligatory joke that Clint Eastwood would save ESPN a ton of money calling Monday Night Football because the chair next to him could remain empty the entire season and he wouldn't even notice.
Liam Neeson has a new movie coming out where his family is taken again. I think it's called Taken, again.
Neeson has carved out quite a nice career for himself in the last 20 years, and with ESPN's penchant for hiring foreign announcers to call, ahem, football, it stands to reason it might hire someone with Neeson's accent to call American football.
Plus, if you don't think the guy can ad-lib, watch this video from HBO's Life's Too Short. It's one of the only funny moments in the show's dreadful first season. Forget ESPN—maybe HBO should have built a show around Neeson.
Who, pray tell, is Peter Cullen? He is the voice of Optimus Prime, the greatest leader in cartoon history (no offense, He-Man or Lion-O).
Tell me you wouldn't hang on every call of an NFL game if Optimus Prime was in the booth?
You can't. You simply cannot tell me that, because you would be hanging on every call.
Plus, the potential for quotes like this are too good to pass up, ESPN: “There’s a thin line between being a hero and being a memory.”
Are you kidding me?!? In all seriousness, NFL Films should cut up a video with old Optimus Prime quotes put to current highlights. I want a cut of the DVD residuals.
I'm half convinced Will Ferrell has already called an entire Monday Night Football game with how often he is on ESPN (click this video link if you don't believe me).
If the guy's movie career ever dries up (yeah, right) or he gets tired of churning out silver-screen hits, he would change comedy on TV forever by calling an entire season of football games.
He would have to play it straight, using more dry wit than slapstick as he tried to be a bona fide play-by-play announcer, but if anyone can do it, it would be Ferrell. It would be a modern-day Andy Kaufman moment, transcending whatever ESPN had when Dennis Miller pontificated random thoughts in the booth a decade or so ago.
Plus, if anyone could sell the line "Monday Night Football: The Caboose Edition," it would be Ferrell.
Thanks to Ian Casselberry for the best suggestion on the list. Leave your thoughts for folks who would be better than Chris Berman in the comments.