Ranking The NFL's Top Five Announcing Teams: A 2010 NFL Television Primer
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
As you get set for Thursday Night's NFL season opener at the Superdome, Bleacher Report prepares you for 17 weeks of sitting down in front of the boob tube and rooting for your favorite team or watching the game of the week.
Today, we're ranking the six best announcing crews across the NFL's four main exhibitors (Fox, CBS, NBC, and ESPN). Regardless of the match-up or the outcome, these crews are guaranteed to entertain you for three hours.
#6 Jim Nantz/Phil Simms (CBS)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Ironically, CBS' top announcer crew is ranked "last" in this top six list. Why? I find them incredibly boring. Jim Nantz is this generation's Pat Summerall with perhaps a bit more oomph in those soothing tones. When I hear Nantz, I think either The Master's or March Madness, certainly not NFL football.
Simms, meanwhile, has always been knowledgeable but is prone to being unintelligible at times.
I've never been sure why CBS continues to use this duo as it's number one crew but I will say this: they may not be exciting but they are certainly professional, unbiased, and easy to listen to. That is what gets them in the top six.
#5 Dick Stockton/Darryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa (FOX)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Ironically, two of the best broadcast additions that Fox has made in the past decade have been Dallas Cowboys. Daryl "Moose" Johnston is an excellent broadcaster, one who blends relatively high energy with unquestioned knowledge. In my opinion, he is the one who makes this crew as good as it is.
Although Dick Stockton is a long-time veteran, he hasn't necessarily lost a step. He is still a solid broadcaster, one that just about any NFL should enjoy listening.
Tony "Goose" Siragusa is the wild card of this group. He has the innovative position of playing part analyst, part sideline reporter. In addition to his "bro from the bar" persona, his vantage point and knowledge of the game gives him one of the most interesting positions in sports television.
#4 Mike Tirico/Ron Jaworski/John Gruden (ESPN)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The three best moves ESPN made after winning the rights to Monday Night Football were ditching Joe Theismann, adding Ron Jaworski, and replacing Tony Kornheiser with Jon Gruden.
The two worst moves ESPN has made in this regard: Signing Kornheiser in the first place and choosing Mike Tirico as its play-by-play announcer.
Now, Tirico has gotten better. In fact, I believe that Tirico's relative anonymity (as ESPN's Thursday Night College Football announcer) led many, myself included, to scratch their heads at the selection. Tirico's not bad, he just doesn't bring the kind of style and name recognition that a MNF gig commands.
That said, Jaws and Chucky are perfect. ESPN should do all they can to keep these two in the booth for as long as they can. When you have a duo like them, you don't need a previously-A-list play-by-play announcer. That, perhaps, is what the suits at Bristol were going for when they tabbed Tirico for the gig.
Not only are Jaworski and Gruden highly entertaining and fun to listen to, but they actually know what they are talking about and deliver it in a way that is easily digestible by the general public.
#3 Gus Johnson/Steve Tasker (CBS)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Just watch the clip of Brandon Stokley's last second catch and run in the Broncos' season opener at Cincinnati last year and you'll know all you need to know.
Gus Johnson first made a name for himself covering some of the NCAA Basketball Tournament's most memorable games in recent years. It was often thought that if Johnson was courtside, that game was going to be exciting.
Now Johnson, along with former Buffalo Bills special teamer Steve Tasker, an energetic and professional analyst in his own right, form CBS' fifth announcing crew.
Wait, did you say fifth?
Why these guys aren't higher on CBS' "depth chart" is beyond me.
Certainly, Johnson's propensity to spontaneously combust on air is both a blessing and a curse. And, sure, his "gettin'-away-from-the-cops-speed" comment about Chris Johnson may have been poorly-worded but this duo is highly entertaining.
Rest assured, if you get these two for one of your games on Sunday, buckle up for the next three hours.
#2 Joe Buck/Troy Aikman (FOX)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Okay, so Joe Buck annoys a lot of people. Sure, sometimes he annoys me, though, not to the same degree as a lot of the comments I see about him.
Let me ask you this, though: Does Buck ever annoy you when the team you're rooting for is winning?
When your team does well, Buck and Troy Aikman have nothing but praise for your team, but when they are bad, they tell you about it. Why does that annoy people? Could it be his tendency to be smug off the air that turns people off?
For the most part, I find Buck to be a solid, enjoyable broadcaster. The thing that sets him apart from the previous four play-by-play men is that Buck doesn't rely on his analyst to come up with things to discuss and analyze. Buck tries, sometimes to a fault, to be an analyst himself. This is usually a good thing.
Aikman, meanwhile, may be the best analyst out there. You really can't find any fault with his work. If you can, please tell me.
#1 Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth -- NBC
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Broadcasting vets Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are the best broadcasting duo in the NFL, right now.
For starters, Al Michaels is this era's king of NFL prime time broadcasts. In addition, he is a perfect blend of Stockton, Johnson, and Buck; he brings a veteran A-list presence. You know that when you hear his voice, it's the game of the week. He can be as excitable as Johnson when the moment calls for it ("he did what??") but stays under control, and analyze stats and trends, just as Buck can.
As for Collinsworth, I used to think the studio was the best place for him. He usually found a way to annoy me during his stint with Buck and Aikman at Fox.
Somehow, though, when he transitioned from NBC's studio to the booth after John Madden's retirement, he transformed into a less abrasive, more informative shell of his former self.
Maybe working with Michaels has toned Collinsworth down (and, perhaps, the other way around) as there wasn't enough room in any press box to house the two egos that these two guys at one time possessed.
So, now as you get ready for Thursday's opening game, and the "real" opening day to follow on Sunday, you now know which announcing crews will give you the best entertainment value in three hours.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the rankings? Was there a crew omitted?