NFL: Top 10 TV Broadcasting Gaffes of All Time
There is no better game suited for television than football. The NFL and its broadcasters have made infinitely more great moves than bad ones.
NFL Sunday Ticket, NFL Red Zone, the invention of Monday Night Football, the 1st and 10 yellow line indicator? We'll save these and other innovations for another list.
But due to the incredible popularity of the NFL on the tube, the mistakes made by those calling the action on the field are seen by most of America. Here are the 10 that stick out the most.
10. NFL on Fox Announcers Lose Track of Downs
As the Redskins were poised to score a potentially game-tying score against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they managed to gain a first down at the 3-yard line.
Nobody told the NFL on FOX crew that. Instead, the broadcast team (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa) and the viewers at home thought the next play was second-and-one instead of a first-and-goal situation.
As the next two plays failed to gain, all except the players and the fans in the stands appeared to be witnessing the Redskins being gifted an extra opportunity to score—which they did.
It's inexplicable to think that two professionals in the booth, a reporter on the field and a production crew couldn't figure this one out.
But the bigger screw-up in the game came on the very next play, as Washington botched the extra point attempt.
9. Tony Kornheiser Crosses the Border
Tony Kornheiser is perfect for the off-the-cuff banter of "Pardon the Interruption." However, he wasn't the right fit for Monday Night Football—which is the fault of those who tabbed him to be in the booth to begin with.
But TK's comment during the Eagles-Cowboys game in September 2008 can't be excused in the politically correct world of television.
As the MNF broadcast replayed Dallas' Felix Jones was running for a touchdown using ESPN Deportes audio, Kornheiser commented this way:
"I took high school Spanish, and that either means ‘Nobody is going to touch him,’ or ‘Could you pick up my dry cleaning in the morning?'"
He apologized later on air during the telecast.
8. Putting a Microphone in Front of Tony Siragusa
Whenever some genius decides to cook the Goose for being a sideline reporter, it would be a smart move.
The earlier "fifth down" incident with the Redskins, in which he was partially at fault, is the finest nugget in a treasure chest of fool's gold.
Siragusa constantly feels out of place in his current role and has not once offered insight to the game he's covering.
7. Putting a Microphone in Front of Joe Theismann
It's a great relief to all that both Theismann and Matt Millen were taken off the NFL Network Thursday and Saturday night's broadcasting booths, respectively.
It temporarily mutes one of the more annoying color commentators. Theismann is often pompous and often incorrect in his prognostications.
Theismann spent just one year with the NFL Network's game coverage after several years on ESPN. And unfortunately for those living in the Washington D.C. area, they have to listen to him during Redskins pre-season contests.
6. Rush Limbaugh on "NFL Countdown"
It now seems totally laughable that Rush Limbaugh on the panel of "NFL Countdown" would be a good idea.
But ESPN tried it anyway in 2003, and it instantly blew up in their face.
In September, after the Philadelphia Eagles started 0-2, Limbaugh stated that multi-Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated. The reason?
"The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," he said.
The comments touched off a firestorm of controversy, one that led Limbaugh to resign from his post on "Countdown" less than a week later.
5. Super Bowl XXXVIII's Halftime Peep Show
The exciting championship contest between the Patriots and the Panthers may be more remembered for what happened at halftime.
Everyone that knows football, and many who don't, are fully aware of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction." The incident had a ripple effect on censorship in both TV and radio.
Financially, it cost CBS—the network broadcasting the Super Bowl—a fine of $550,00 by the Federal Communications Commission. The NFL banned MTV from producing any future halftime shows.
4. Howard Cosell's Pet Name
There was no more polarizing broadcaster than Howard Cosell. He was always a must-see on any broadcast he was a part of because of his style of "telling it like it is."
The way he described a catch-and-run by Redskins wideout Alvin Garrett in a Monday night game in 1983 versus the Cowboys was most peculiar.
Cosell defended his comments, stating that he had used it in the past to describe small white athletes and when talking about his grandchildren.
He would leave the Monday Night Football both at the conclusion of the 1983 season.
3. Dennis Miller in the Monday Night Football Booth
Just as Tony Kornheiser wasn't a fit for Monday Night Football commentating, neither was Dennis Miller. But Miller's insertion into the booth in 2000 was a far more colossal mishap by ABC management and remains one of the all-time mistakes in TV history.
Miller's quips and out-there references, although perfect for the comedy club, were not suited for an NFL broadcast.
He lasted two seasons and proved why football games should have color analysts who have actually played the games before.
2. Jimmy the Greek's Downfall
Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was one of the most recognizable broadcasting personalities of the 1970s and 80s as a member of the popular CBS pregame show, "The NFL Today."
Each week, the former Las Vegas bookie would provide his picks for the upcoming games —never revealing the spread in order to not promote gambling on air.
But in January 1988, "The Greek" simply lost it. His disparaging comments on why African Americans are superior athletes resulted in his firing from CBS soon after. And the timing of statement couldn't have been worse —it was Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.
After his departure from "The NFL Today," Snyder was rarely seen in the public eye until his death in 1996.
1. The Heidi Game
It's safe to say that with the popularity of pro football in the U.S., an incident like this will never happen again.
The Raiders were hosting the Jets on November 17, 1968, in the late afternoon game on NBC. Afterwards, the Peacock Network was scheduled to air the premiere of the made-for-TV movie "Heidi" at 7 p.m. ET.
As the game ran long, it came up on the allotted time to switch over to a show that would only please the demographic of 7- to15-year-old girls.
With the Jets leading 32-29 and 1:05 to go and the clock at 7 p.m., football fans watched in horror as the picture switched from the gridiron to a movie of the classic children's story.
And there was no NFL Sunday Ticket or NFL Red Zone for anyone to continue following the action.
NBC received floods of complaints instantly. The fans would be even more fumed when it turned out that the Raiders would score two touchdowns in the final 65 seconds to win 43-32.