Every year the fine people at Awful Announcing do a poll to grade the announcers in the major sports.  A couple of days ago they released this year’s grades for all of the NFL announcing crews.  But something was missing.

It wasn’t the announcing teams, they got them all.  It’s not the grades, they included all of those.  They missed the fun part.  They didn’t use the article as an excuse to take cheap shots at the announcers.

Well, somebody’s got to do it.  Here are the crews from worst grade to best, only I’m going to add the pith.

ESPN – Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland
Awful Announcing most popular score – F

Good god, nobody gets an F in these things.  Harry Kalas died during the season one year and didn’t get an F.

There is so much wrong with this team and the godawful broadcast the ESPN is committed to forcing down our throats.  First off, Tessitore is a fucking weirdo.  He was weird when he hosted the college football wrap up show on ESPN, he was weird when he was one of the top college football game announcers on ESPN, he’s weird when he does boxing and he’s ramped all of that weirdness into a cackling crackpot on Monday Night Football.  He just starts yelling for no reason.  You know how Gus Johnson starts screaming whenever anything remotely exciting happens?  Tessitore doesn’t even need the excitement to be remote, he’s just going to randomly start screaming 40 times a game.  Sometimes it’ll coincide with a big play, but sometimes it’s in the middle of a Buffalo Wild Wings read.


Booger’s not a bad announcer, but ESPN is obsessed with showing the moronic combination golf-cart scissor lift he’s sitting on the entire game on the sideline.  At the beginning of the season the rig also had a 55 inch TV mounted on it for Booger to watch (while sitting 15 feet from the actual action) but fans who paid $800 to sit in the first three rows got a little pissy about being blocked by the Boogermobile on every play.  ESPN could give a shit what Booger’s talking about, they just want to show the fucking car they built for him.

I’m convinced Witten was knocked into a coma in his last game last season and has not come to yet.  They just prop him up in the booth and strap a football cliché See ‘n Say to his chest and Tessitore just randomly pulls it during the game.  Witten never seems to know what the score is, and teams going for two absolutely baffles him.  He also tells us he played tight end like 14 times a game.  I think it’s one of the three things his wife made him memorize about himself in case he blacks out in a mall and has to tell somebody who he is, where he lives and that he played in the NFL.

This team doesn’t need to be broken up, it needs to be strapped to a rocket and shot into the sun.  They are so bad, I’d rather they give Chip Caray and Joe Carter a shot at doing NFL games.

OK, maybe they’re not THAT bad.

CBS – Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta
Awful Announcing most popular score – C

I heard them on RedZone a couple of weeks ago and laughed out loud when I found out Archuleta was on an announcing team.  You guys remember him, right?  He played safety for Lovie Smith in St. Louis and at the end of his career Lovie brought him to Chicago and he ran around the field with his head down launching himself at guys and never hitting anything.  I have no idea if he’s good or not, and I’ve only ever heard Dedes do NBA for the Lakers and Knicks.  So, who cares?

Fox – Dick Stockton and Mark Schlereth
Awful Announcing most popular score – C

I take it back.  I’d rather listen to the ESPN dopes do a game that lasted a full week than listen to five minutes of Stockton and Schlereth.  Stockton used to be awesome doing NBA games…30 years ago!  Ten years ago we got trapped having to listen to him announce an entire Cubs playoff series on TBS.  Thankfully, the Cubs had the good sense to get swept to make it stop.  But not before he said “Adolfo Soriano” a thousand times.

But this, this is Stockton’s masterpiece.  “If you put it on the prompter, HE WILL READ IT!”

Schlereth is all folksy schtick, most of which is just him reminding us that he used to throw up on the football when he played center for the Broncos and that he used to piss his pants on purpose every game.  Well, he has that in common with Stockton now, except for the on purpose part.

CBS – Andrew Catalon and James Lofton
Awful Announcing most popular score – C

Catalon is the perfect generic announcer guy.  He’s like if you smushed Brian Anderson and Kevin Burkhardt together.  Actually, that might be how he was created.

Lofton is fine.  That’s about it.

CBS – Tom McCarthy and Steve Beurlein
Awful Announcing most popular score – C

I guess this is the Tom McCarthy who also does Phillies games, and not the one who wrote and directed Spotlight and starred in the final season of The Wire as the newspaper reporter who just makes shit up.  Beurlein’s been a perfunctory football analyst ever since he stopped being a perfunctory quarterback.

Fox – Chris Myers and Daryl Johnston
Awful Announcing most popular score – B

I have a soft spot in my heart for Myers ever since I was in college and me and my drunk buddies got the number for ESPN1 called it and asked for him.  When the person who answered the phone asked who I was, I just said, “Mark Kelso.”  You remember him, the safety on those Bills’ Super Bowl teams with the big pad on top of his helmet.  Anyway, it was Super Bowl week, and Myers took the call, and was no doubt disappointed to hear four drunk guys screaming into the phone at him.  He laughed did his Carson, “That’s some weird, wild stuff” thanked us for calling and hung up.  Then, five minutes later we watched him do SportsCenter.

Moose announces (and dresses) like a slow white fullback who hit his head into people until his brain turned into pudding.  These two did back-to-back Bears’ games earlier this year and Moose seemed unconvinced that the Bears are good.  But, he also said nice things about Nathan Peterman, so nothing is too dumb for him to say out loud.

CBS – Kenny Albert and Ronde Barber
Awful Announcing most popular score – B

Kenny is Marv’s kid, and Marv is just about the greatest damned announcer ever.  What that has to do with Kenny’s ability is anybody’s guess.  Ronde suffers from being an identical twin to the insufferable Tiki, but he’s actually a pretty good announcer.  He also has never been fired from the Today show, left his pregnant wife for a college intern or led the NFL in fumbles.

CBS – Greg Gumbel, Bruce Arians and Trent Green
Awful Announcing most popular score – B

Gumbel has now won the “worst toupee in professional broadcasting” award nine years in a row.  That thing is such salad that it’s part of the Romaine lettuce e-coli ban.

Or, maybe his hair just miraculously started growing back after this:

Greg Gumble bald

Ironically, his streak ended Marv Albert’s best toupee streak of 12 years.  I pointed out that rug to my wife and she thought it was Bryant Gumbel.  I forgot it until one day I was watching Real Sports and she walked by and said, “He looks so much better without the clown wig.”

Arians has an awful voice, but otherwise he’s good.  He is, not surprisingly, unafraid to say things, and he’s using the broadcasts to openly lobby for the Browns’ job, which is weird, but kind of cool.

If you told me Green was Rich Gannon I wouldn’t have any way of knowing you were shitting me, and I wouldn’t care.

Fox – tHom Brennaman and Chris Spielman
Awful Announcing most popular score – B

tHom is the worst.  Just a phony voiced, insufferable asshat.  The best part is that he’s growing his hair like his dad, the illustrious Franchester Martin Brennaman, did in his heyday with the Reds.


Spielman’s very good.  He knows his shit, he speaks with authority and he sounds like he’s ready and willing to strangle Brennaman at any time.  Or, he could punch him in a hotel room, like Ron Santo did. Allegedly.2

Fox – Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
Awful Announcing most popular score – A

I have come around on Joe Buck.  I used to loathe him, now I just have a mild disdain for him.  He’s a solid announcer, and I am the first to admit that his call of the final out of the Cubs’ World Series win, which was punctuated perfectly after a long pause with, “And the Cubs…have finally won it all,” is better than Pat Hughes’ was.  Especially since Pat threw in the weird stuff about the Cubs jumping up and down like a bunch of delirious ten year olds, and that awful State Farm plug (not his fault.)

Pat’s had some incredible moments, not the least of which was this:

“If you feel like you can’t sit down, you are not alone.  I wish all of you could be right here at this moment.”  Terrific stuff.3

Anyway, so where was I?  Oh, yeah, Joe Buck doesn’t suck as much as he used to.  As for Troy.  I mean, what exactly does he do?  Do you remember anything he’s ever said?  He’s been on the top team at Fox for 17 years and he’s never said anything.  When he first started, the only thing memorable about him was that whenever they put a graphic up, he read it out loud.  Every time.  Now he doesn’t even do that.

Fox – Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis
Awful Announcing most popular score – B

Burkhardt is a hairdo with a good voice, he’s fine.  Charles Davis is informative and entertaining and my biggest problem with this team is what might have been.  Before Ryan Tannehill snapped his leg last August, our boy, Jay Cutler was on this team.  We never got to hear him because he took $10 million from the only guy in the league who would give it to him, former Bears’ offensive coordinator Adam Gase, and went on a check cashing tour of the AFC East.

Alas.  Cutler’s smug, disinterested, smart assedness would have been terrific.  I’d have muted every Bears’ game last year and turned the sound up on TV2 on whatever game these three were doing. It’s a tragedy.

Instead, this is all we get:

CBS – Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
Awful Announcing most popular score – A

Harlan is so much better than CBS’ number one, the mellow yacht rock personification that is Jim Nantz, it’s not even funny.  He’s got a great voice, he knows when to get genuinely excited and no matter how dull his partner is, he delivers.  Plus, his brother, Bryan Harlan was the Bears’ PR guy and got fired for (gasp!) using a bookie to bet on games.  Ooh, what a scandal!  If he’d just punched women instead the Redskins would have hired him.

Oh, and if you don’t think Kevin Harlan calling a drunk streaker running around the field isn’t great, you are a dope.

Gannon?  He makes Troy Aikman sound like Dick Vitale.

CBS – Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
Awful Announcing most popular score – A

Like Harlan, Eagle is a much better football announcer than Nantz.  Plus, he’s funny as hell.  This SI Media Podcast episode with Jimmy Traina interviewing Eagle is tremendous just for his Bill Raftery stories, but he also has good stuff on Marv Albert and Mike Francesca and Chris Russo.  And there’s a great story about Ian’s wife getting blown off by Ian Ziering. Check it out.

Fouts is also good.  He seems to have recovered from his ill-fated run on Monday Night Football where he had to pretend that Dennis Miller making House of Plantaganet references was funny, and he’s just an easy listen.  They are the number two crew on CBS, which means they occasionally get a playoff game.  They deserve better.

NBC – Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
Awful Announcing most popular score – A

Al really is good.  He’s old as shit, and he still doesn’t miss much.  He still tries to get cute with subtle gambling references, which should be overt now that it’s legal.  Al’s career is legendary with all of the Super Bowls and the Miracle on Ice, but this of course is his finest moment (he chimes in at about the 1:50 mark.)

Al was on the coverage because he was a golf buddy of OJ’s.  And, he’s played a shitload of golf with Donald Trump.  So, great?

As for Collinsworth, I’ve never understood the unconditional love for him.  By the end, John Madden was a poor, bleating facsimile of his former self and he was still better than Collinsworth.  I’d rather have a guy with eyebrows the size of squirrels yelling, “Boom!” for no reason than suffer through more of Collinsworth’s pseudoanalysis where he makes a basic defense out to be a complicated military maneuver.

Check out him going full Wooderson in this Monday Night Football halftime feature on single football players from the ’80s.

Collinsworth 80s

“I like girls who aren’t too bright because you can trick them a little bit.”
“High school girls love me.”

Here’s the video:

CBS – Jim Nantz and Tony Romo
Awful Announcing most popular score – A

Nantz.  Come on.  How is it we are still stuck with the squarest guy in any room doing all of the biggest games?  I honestly think he still does the NCAA Tournament just so he can syrup up those cloying Masters promos in every game.  The last few years of Phil Simms and Nantz were unlistenable, and he wasn’t even there for the greatest Phil Simms broadcasting moment ever, when a Patriots fan hit Phil with a snowball while they were on the air:

Romo’s good.  He actually enjoys being a broadcaster (what a concept) and if he didn’t have to drag Nantz’s ass through three hours every Sunday he’d be that much better.  CBS convinced him to stop predicting plays before they happened, which was stupid because it was awesome.

That’s good shit.  I’m convinced the other announcers whined about how it made them look bad.  You know what? It did.  Fuck them.

There are two crews the Awful Announcing guys didn’t rate.

NFL Network – Rich Eisen, Michael Irvin, Steve Mariucci, Kurt Warner

The longtime Gameday Morning crew did one of the London games and it was…something.  Eisen claimed he wasn’t going to do true play-by-play but he basically did, and it was fine.  And while the four man booth had serious Naked Gun potential:

Naked Gun booth

They mostly didn’t talk over each other that much.  Of course they were hampered by the fact that Irvin is a clueless lunatic and Mariucci hasn’t said anything interesting in a decade.  Kurt Warner (who you could hear on the Harlan call of the streaker) is really good and should have gotten the Monday Night Football job that ESPN wasted on Witten.

NBC – Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison

Thanksgiving night, NBC trotted out their studio team to do the Falcons-Saints game. Tirico is one of the best and he’s just waiting for Al to die, and you could tell that NBC was using the game as a test of who will do their second playoff game on Wild Card weekend.  It’ll either be Tirico and his Notre Dame football partner, Doug Flutie (who is godawful), or, I guess these two clowns.  Harrison was best known as a player for hitting guys in the knees and/or with his helmet, and his announcing is just about that nuanced.

But the real travesty is Tony Dungy.  America’s dad football coach is death on TV.  He looks like a ghoul, and they had to send out for more bronze just to put the ears on his Hall of Fame bust:

Tony Dungy HOF bust

I’ve seen suspension bridges with less support than whatever they had to do to keep those ears from making the bust tip over.  I just don’t get what NBC thinks Dungy’s appeal is.  He wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful, and yet they act like we should revere all of the pearls of non-wisdom that pour out of his mouth.  Plus, he only won a Super Bowl because the rain made Rex Grossman’s tiny hands unusable and Lovie wouldn’t make Ron Turner give the ball to Thomas Jones 40 times.

Not that I’m bitter.




Here are those annoying footnotes.

  1. Incredibly, just by calling information in Connecticut and asking for the news room number.  Seriously. We just called 262-555-1212 and asked.
  2. In 1993, tHom claimed to have slipped in his hotel bathroom, hit his face on the vanity and broke his jaw.  Rumors persisted that he and Santo had been out that night having some drinks and Santo clocked him.  It might not be true, but it should be.
  3. Stick around for the end when they have Mike Shannon’s call. His disdain is palpable and I hope he choked on it.