Fumbling the Mic: Football's 10 Worst TV Commentators

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Fumbling the Mic: Football's 10 Worst TV Commentators

The main job of the man behind the microphone at a football game, or at any other sporting event, is to contribute information that is vital to the viewers understanding of the game.


Sometimes this deals with more than just what takes place between the lines. Interviews, history, injury reports, and game day analysis -- how the teams match up and what is at stake, all add to the viewers insight and enjoyment of the game.


Today, with twenty-four hour coverage just a click-of-the-remote away, we get more opinion and prediction than we do viable information.


With so much air-time, we can expect some filler that will contain more fluff than content. It keeps us entertained until the game begins.


That brings us to the subject at hand: the personalities that man the microphones and face the cameras during football season.


The best TV commentators leave you talking about what you saw during the game, not what you heard from the booth.


Radio, of course, is different. The man behind the radio mic has to make you see what is happening down on the field.


Some of these camera-loving TV guys would starve to death if they had to paint a picture with words.


The broadcast booth and studio are there to assist the fan -- to be an extension of the game, not to provide a platform where has-been players and former coaches jockey for the spotlight.


Even the interview should provide information for the fans rather than seeking to advance the personal ego and agenda of the person conducting the interview.


Everyone sports fan has this list. The people on your list will vary from mine, and the reasons will vary. It could be something as simple as the sound of their voice, or the irritation of their “I’m always right” personality, or the fact that they see themselves as being bigger than the game they cover.


Here is my list, and some of the reasons they made my top ten. It contains some who no longer work the mic, and some who unfortunately (in my opinion) still do.


It includes some who work play-by-play, color commentary, analysis, and some who are known for their commentary on sports other than just football.



10. Jim Lampley: NBC


Plastic. Made by Mattel. Glue not included. Uses 4AA batteries.


Jim should audition for the lead roll of Woody when Toy Story hits Broadway.



9. Todd Blackledge: ESPN


As the QB at Penn State, Blackledge guided the Nittany Lions to a 31-5 record including a national championship in 1982. He has never gotten over it.


Perhaps he has also never gotten over his failure to make the grade in the NFL, and therefore overcompensates by posturing as the authority in all things pertaining to his old position.


With his food tastes being such a hit, maybe he should consider becoming a chef.



8. Jerry Glanville: Fox


The little coach who couldn’t is attempting to coach again.  Pray for Portland State! His black attire symbolized the mourning that he put Falcon fans through during his years as head fist-fight coach, and also what happened to the TV screen when he masqueraded as a commentator.


Question: Who would you rather have at QB, Brett Favre or Billy Joe Tolliver? If your answer was Billy Joe, please consider taking up broom hockey.


I think he should apply for the head groundskeeper position at Graceland.


7. Dennis Miller:  ABC Monday Night Football


Dennis is a good guy, but his use of humorous comparisons was way over the top. I always had the feeling he was loaded and waiting for the right moment to fire his one-liners such as “He dropped that pass like it was a bad habit!”


His “Millerism’s” grew old quickly.



6. Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson: CBS


Their ability to co-ruin a good game is so legendary among SEC fans that I include them here as one horrific pick. Why are they working together? Why is the worst team of announcers assigned to cover the SEC? Why aren’t they covering fish-spearing in the remote areas of the Amazon?


Thank goodness for Larry Munson and radio!



5. Dan Dierdorf: CBS


He seems to be a genuinely nice guy. The problem is he tends to over-state his own opinion and can come across as condescending. If you listen closely, you will think that he played every position on the field – and was All-America at each. He spends valuable air-time discussing matters that are completely non-essential to the game.


His foray into boxing almost caused me to forsake the sport completely!



4. Chris Collinsworth: NBC. NFL Network


That perpetual smirk!  An excellent player in college and the pro’s, but so obnoxious and smug behind a mic. "OK Chris, we know you played the game". It gets worse when he strays into other sports.


The smirk was on full display when he asked Kobe Bryant (at the Olympics no-less!), “Is that a ‘cool’ thing to say, in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems sort of like a day gone by.”


Say what? Was that a trick question or just Collinsworth at his worst?



3. Jim Gray: Westwood One's Monday Night Football


With Gray exiled to radio coverage of the NFL, at least we won’t have to watch his abrasive tactics. History shows that his insulting style is no respecter of sports. One thing you have to hand to him, he mecahnically pursues his interview. It almost got him decapitated by Mike Tyson.


His lack of professionalism during his interview of Pete Rose at game two of the 1999 World Series, after Rose was introduced as a member of the Major League Baseball All-Century Team, angered fans and athletes alike.


It should be shown in journalism classes across the nation as an example of how to look classless in front of a camera. He actually made Rose look good.



2. Louis Leo Holtz: ESPN


Fingers on a chalk-board!! This guy is the world’s largest source of unusable knowledge. Does ESPN keep him on for the comic relief? His weekly upset picks are as ridiculous as his attempt to coach in the SEC.


When Lou starts talking it is a perfect time to take a potty-break.


Maybe he should consider coaching in the NFL. Wait a minute! He already tried that with the Jets in 76….resulting in a record of 3-10. My bad!



1. Bryant Gumble: NFL Network


No doubt about it! The worst ever! At least Lou has an engaging personality.


Gumble is probably the most conceited announcer to ever stand behind a mic of any kind. His disastrous stint with the NFL Network was a reminder that a haughty spirit precedes a fall.


I suggest that he should confine himself to doing documentaries about himself.

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