10 Talking Heads Sure to Infuriate NFL Fans in 2011
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Commentators have a tough job.
They have to sail between the Scylla of being too silent and appearing redundant and the Charybdis of talking too often and appearing to be the Gilmore Girls on crack.
It's a particularly fine art finding the balance, and the commentators who can make their way between the two and also offer insight, intelligence and sheer depth of knowledge earn every cent they're paid.
Then you have the rest. Everyone has a short list of commentators they can't stand. Everyone has their least favorite.
Everyone has the commentator they wish would accidentally be thrown into a cement mixer.
Here's a solid ten who may dip into the latter category. If you've got additions or subtractions to the list, absolutely feel free to throw them into the comments.
It's a field day on all the little quirks and catchphrases and mannerisms and errors and people you just can't stand. Boom!
No fluffy tail; No thanks.
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Al Michaels is currently on NBC's Sunday Night Football, after 20 years of being on ABC's Monday Night Football with John Madden.
Why the shift from ABC and MNF to NBC and SNF?
Well, part of the deal was that Michaels was "traded" to NBC for, among other things, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
That's probably a hint that something's amiss.
On SNF he was replaced by Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser.
Hint two that something's really amiss.
So why does he make the list of ridiculously annoying commentators?
It's the little things. He says "New Or-le-ye-an-s" like it's a half dozen syllables. That's well and good, except when the Saints became relevant with Drew Brees and they get mentioned every weekend.
He can't banter with John Madden any more, so there's no counterbalance to his Michaels-isms.
Maybe it's just that he got spread out too thin, covering basketball, football, ice hockey, the Winter Olympics...
Give me Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
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I dare you to say something about Tony Kornheiser's Monday Night Football broadcasting career that's both flattering and accurate.
I admit, Kornheiser's tolerable on Pardon the Interruption. But MNF?
When he's let loose on a live football game where scripted jokes won't cut it, he slips into his nasty alter-ego and lets loose a barrage of vindictive, snide comments amidst nonsensical football "commentary."
It's baffling, he is hyper-critical yet at the same time shows how shallow his depth of football knowledge is.
Stephen Rodrick let loose the scathing comment that Kornheiser argues aimlessly instead of commentating.
Kornheiser demanded that Rodrick be fired (take THAT, truth-speaker).
Paul Farhi suggested Kornheiser was the third-wheel in the MNF trio (well duh).
Kornheiser called Farhi "a two-bit weasel slug" and tried to play the martyr, saying his own newspaper had "back-stabbed" him.
Mike Golic inquired into Kornheiser's credentials, but then said Kornheiser's performance was "fine," and left it at that.
Kornheiser responded by saying "I just want to wring Golic's neck and hang him up over the back of a shower rod like a duck."
That doesn't sound like a guy who feels like he's competent at his job. Yuck.
Do not trust this man with an NFL franchise, microphone, or children.
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Couldn't find anything nice to say about Tony Kornheiser as a MNF commentator?
Find something nice to say about Matt Millen for something he's done this century.
His credentials for commentary are, uh, being the worst Chief Executive of an NFL franchise in the history of the NFL, franchises, Chief Executives or the word "worst".
In case you missed it, his Lions from 2001 to 2008 were a miserable 31-97, and very, very lucky to get to 31.
And, somehow, his commentary was actually worse.
Why so bad? Well, first there was the constant references to his own career as a President/Chief Executive.
Not in a "yeah, I did that once, I'm kind of ashamed" way, no humility, no chastened attitude.
He was proud of it. So much so that every time one of his ex-underlings was involved in a game, he'd wax lyrical about just how good the guy is and just how brilliant his original general manager must have been for hiring the guy.
There was also the baffling overrating of any guy who's even been within 50 yards of Penn State.
He's unemployed, now. But he's kind of like herpes you'll probably see him somewhere, unexpectedly and completely unwelcome, in the next three months.
Picking up Tony Soprano's drycleaning, optional.
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Tony "Goose" Siragusa is one half of the "Moose and Goose" tag team, which is reason enough to cringe a little.
He's also a sideline analyst that, despite having had a twelve season career as an NFL defensive tackle, never seems to have any insight into what goes on in the trenches.
That's a second reason to question his purpose.
Instead he gets to point out such insightful things as "team that is losing needs to score in the second half to win" or telling us just how silent and brooding a player is as they went into a locker-room.
Dun dun dunnn.
I'm a little unsure as to his role.
He's clearly not there for the insight into line play.
He's not pushy enough on players to get juicy soundbites.
He's not a current enough player to offer personal insights.
It makes me wonder if his entire purposes is to rhyme with "Moose".
Madame Tussaud wants her dummy back.
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THREE YARD SCREEN PASS.
I had to get that out of the system.
I'm a little torn about adding Buck to the list, because it's rough to kick a guy when he's down (he recently had a virus that affected the nerves in his throat, meaning he can't raise his voice).
Not that he would anyway.
I get that his father was a big-shot commentator, so he's got a lot to live up to.
But wow, he's got a gift of a voice, and he finds ways to underwhelm with it.
Maybe it's the schedule, as he covers baseball almost full-time, too, but there's something about his commentating that irks me.
I can't quite put my finger on it.
It's like the anti-je ne sais quoi, because it might be something it's lacking.
Enthusiasm? Verve? Life?
He's understated. Cool. But he also does weird things for a play-by-play guy, like add snippets of "analysis" like: "Why don't they play 2 minute drill all the time?"
Really? That's not even a real question, and you're missing plays to ask it.
Oh. And "No flags on the play!" Thanks for that, Joe. It was really the first thing I wanted to know after seeing Randy Moss burn some guy 50 yards downfield, truly.
Smug. With giant monkey-hands. And a stolen name-tag.
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Peter King irks me.
Maybe it's the Monday Morning Quarterback blog, where he gets things just incorrect enough, just often enough, that I get annoyed reading it, but not quite annoyed enough to avoid reading it on every opportunity.
Maybe it's how he's clearly intelligent enough to know he's often on insecure ground with his predictions or opinions, but deliberately skates around it by pulling out his privileged access to NFL insiders: "my idea's bunkum, but it's bunkum that me and Al Davis joke about on regular occasions. Woo!".
Maybe it's how he seems to pick his opinions in order to goad the average football fan. For instance: "Houston Texans fans just aren't passionate".
Say what? Since when is a supposedly neutral journalist the arbiter of the proper outpouring of fan-Dom?
I'm sorry, Houston, you just didn't have enough flashing women. Or face-painting. Or silly helmets.You just clearly don't care about football.
He must have a hat full of hot-button issues, and the commonly held NFL belief thereof. He digs into his magical hat, selects one, and plays advocatus diaboli for a month until he convinces people through sheer weight of output.
Now do that live on television, voila, Peter King's contribution to live football commentary.
Smile! C'mon! Pretend to like it, Jon!
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Jon Gruden is frustrating.
THIS GUY clearly knows more about football than most of the other commentators stacked together, glued into 24-hour Wikipedia access with a team of writers spewing out ready-made catchphrases.
Hell, you could add Tony Kornheiser to THIS GUY (Kornheiser clearly counts as a negative-sum of NFL knowledge) and THIS GUY would still trump them.
But THIS GUY so rarely busts out THIS GUY's smarts because THIS GUY knows the color commentator role.
He's not there to blitz everyone else in the booth with knowledge.
THIS GUY is supposed to be the flavor, with quirky little THIS GUY anecdotes about THIS GUY's time in the NATIONAL. FOOTBALL. LEAGUE.
He's basically Velma Dinkley, but pretending to be something that strangely alternates between Daphne and Scooby-Doo when talking on television about the NATIONAL. FOOTBALL. LEAGUE.
Just put on the idiot grin and pretend you don't know anything football, Jon. Smile! You're being paid money to talk about the NATIONAL. FOOTBALL. LEAGUE.
Somehow, the worst part is when he slips out of his contrived little character and actually starts banging out his phenomenal football knowledge. Gruden's ESPN Quarterback Camp comes to mind.
When he puts on his business voice and talks the football nitty-gritty with aplomb, it's fantastic. Plenty of insight and intelligence, and he manages to reminds the viewer that THIS GUY actually won a Super Bowl as a coach.
But then he gets back to the booth and realizes he has to be Big, Dumb Jon again. Yuck.
Your soul. He has it.
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Mel Kiper has to be 50 percent baby-oil.
Look at his hair. That's not normal. It's baby-oil.
And not the stuff from Johnson & Johnson.
I mean baby-oil in the way I mean olive oil; from freshly-squeezed babies.
The last guy I saw on television whose entire persona was so encapsulated within a mound of greasy hair was Chewbacca.
Notwithstanding his hair, what most irks me about Kiper is just how horribly, horribly wrong he is, most of the time.
The one straight off the top of my head is when he ripped the Patriots for drafting two tight ends in 2010.
Did Kiper look at the NE depth chart prior? Hell no.
If he had, he would've seen there were zero tight ends on there.
Did he even look at the players? Hell no.
If he had, he would have realized one of them was a "real" tight end (Rob Gronkowski) and he would've seen the other was a Dallas Clark-type slot tight end/wide receiver hybrid (Aaron Hernandez).
After they racked up 1100 yards and 16 touchdowns between them in one year, Kiper had a little egg on his face.
Although that could be baby, too.
Thankfully you don't get to see his legs.
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Joe Theismann has the best job in the world.
All he has to do to shine on Thursday Night Football is:
a) be more interesting than Bob Papa; and
b) not be co-commentator Matt Millen.
Considering Papa's the play-by-play guy, and Matt Millen is Matt Millen (cue: "Maaatt Miiiillen", Team America-style), it's pretty cushy.
So why does he make the list?
It's not the constant interruptions of everybody else to make inane points (snowing! In New England! In January!).
It's not the ridiculous rambling into areas that aren't vaguely on point (want to know what the guy on the plane said to me? No? I'm going to tell you anyway).
It's not hijacking the game to blurt out whatever comes to mind (what touchdown? I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE REFEREE, DAMMIT).
It's not even his annoying voice. (Waaaaaaaaaaa...)
Oh wait. Yes it is. It's all those things.
"Why would you go and do that? That's so stupid. What am I, stupid? I am so stupid."
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"Swami" when he's making predictions.
"Boomer" to his friends and fans.
After publishing this, definitely "Mr Chris Berman" to me.
So why does he irk?
The nicknames. The kitschy little catch-phrases.
His "He... could.... go.... all.... the.... waaaaaaaay". Because a long touchdown on an obviously blown coverage doesn't happen every single week in the NFL, right?
Berman stole that call from Cosell, anyway. He knows it, I know it and now you know it.
His "Whoop!". You really need to point out the highlight in a highlight video? It's paint-by-numbers by color-coding the actual numbers and attaching post-it notes with step-by-step instructions.
His "Nobody rounds up the wagons like the Buffalo Bills". Is that to collect the bodies? Because the Bills just got slaughtered, Chris. Welcome to the 21st Century.
In fact, the funniest catchphrase he's every said happened to be used on some woman in a bar.
Specifically: "You're with me, leather." That was a pickup line, apparently. A successful pickup line, at that.
Pro-tip: Any woman who responds positively to being called "leather" probably ought to be sent back to the zoo, Chris.
Just a thought.