Becoming a part of the event is nothing new for NFL on Fox top announcing duo Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who are sure to both enjoy a portion of the spotlight when they call their fourth Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
But for two television personalities who have both experienced considerable scares health-wise since their last appearance on football's biggest stage, Super Bowl XLVIII may be the sweetest one yet.
A few short months after calling Super Bowl XLV, the 44-year-old Buck began losing quite an important asset of his—his voice.
According to New York Daily News' Bob Raissman, a nerve in the announcer's vocal chords "broke down" and left Buck's voice unable to produce much more than a whisper without serious pain.
Buck recollected those tough memories to Raissman, and the struggle he had to go through:
"Worrying what noise was going to come out of my mouth when I opened it," Buck said, per Raissman. "Reevaluating my voice all the time, comparing it to what I sounded like yesterday. It took my personality away. I didn’t talk on the phone to anybody. I didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t want to be in a restaurant. I just stayed in."
Just like the players he covers, Buck's career could've been over just like that.
The nerves eventually regenerated and Buck's voice was returned to its usual, signature state, per Raissman. The man who has been Fox's premier NFL play-by-play announcer since 2002 recovered from the problem and overcame the mental obstacles that came with it.
He wasn't the only one in the booth to come face to face with a serious issue. Per Newsday's Neil Best, it was an all-too-common worry in the violent sport of football—concussions.
Brain injuries to former players have become one of the most compelling stories in sports, and the former Dallas Cowboys star quarterback is an obvious name to pick considering his vulnerability during his 12-year career. The concerns motivated Aikman to seek testing at Dallas' Center for BrainHealth, according to Best.
Aikman was tested over the summer of 2013, per Best, but he was quickly given a clean bill of health between the ears:
"It was really peace of mind for me. I haven't had any issues. You hear about the different guys coming out, and it's a concern."
It's a concern that Aikman is fortunate enough to sidestep, as he gears up for one of the most coveted jobs around: getting paid lots of money to talk about football on the world's biggest stage.
And that's a stage that Fox's marquee duo should be prepared for, despite the massive size and everything that goes with calling a Super Bowl.
After all, preparation allowed Buck and Aikman to be ready for a certain moment with Richard Sherman during the NFC title game that stole headlines around the planet.
With Sherman was in the midst of an angry postgame tirade directed at San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree and much of the world sat with their jaws on the floor, Buck and Aikman were far from taken back. They had seen this one before.
According to the Star-Ledger's Jorge Castillo, Sherman changed the subject to Crabtree during an off-the-record conversation with Fox's announcers leading up to the game.
In telling of that pre-game conversation, Buck clarified what became known to everyone seconds after the game: It was personal between Sherman and Crabtree:
"We were talking about Anquan Boldin and he took it right over to Michael Crabtree," Buck said, per Castillo. "He had an agenda. It wasn’t that shocking because we had heard him do the same thing. Maybe it was a little more WWE than we heard it on Friday."
Regardless of that moment making Buck and Aikman more ready for the chaotic postgame interview or not, they are sure to receive their fair share of negativity. In today's Twitter frenzy where millions can express their opinions at the same place, nobody in the spotlight is safe from the hate.
But the announcers of Super Bowl XLVIII have never been more comfortable with each other. The two have worked together since 2001, but 2014 seems to be the best year yet, Buck said per Best:
"I've seen this spike over the last six weeks that I didn't see coming, and I don't know why," Buck said, noting that Aikman, regarded as a voice of reason dating to his playing career, is "having more fun" on the air lately.
"I've sent him more text messages after the last three or four games we've done than I ever have," Buck said. "It's been more fun the last four or five weeks than it's ever been."
Buck and Aikman have been known more for their straightforward, analytical, in-the-moment announcing than humor or "fun," but it takes a little bit of everything for a game like the Super Bowl.
Both announcers have been at it for some time and have battled through problems that would have derailed the careers of many, but there is no better time than now.
So much goes into the Super Bowl. The game is the easiest part, at least to the announcers. The spotlight, the hype, the ridiculous amount of people tuning in—that's what makes it a near-impossible event to prepare for.
But with a combined seven Super Bowl appearances both in the booth and on the playing field, Aikman and Buck are no strangers to the biggest stage in American sports.
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