Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; NFL former player Phil Simms (left) hugs former player Michael Strahan prior to Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
The time of national football TV broadcast teams needs to end.
The days of Pat Summerall, Keith Jackson, Dick Enberg and Al Michaels are over. There isn’t anyone out there right now who can touch them.
But this is not about the clueless play-by-play guys. This is about the color commentators who don’t offer anything useful to the broadcast. Let’s take it a step further. The “analysts” don’t either.
Yes, the networks would have you believe the color guys, who are all former players or coaches, offer insight that no one else has. They can relate with the situations that unfold in the games and offer perspective. The point is to connect with the viewer.
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Over the last decade, most people mute their TV so they don’t have to hear the verbal garbage that comes through their speakers. In the case of the Broncos, most fans tolerate the second or two delay to hear Dave Logan on the radio. If Broncos fans do it, fans across the NFL do it.
The most recent example is Phil Simms on CBS.
Broncos Country is furious over the perception that he “hates” or has a “beef” with the Broncos. One moment in the game stands out for them: “I’m not rooting for the Chiefs, but …”
The result is a silly petition fans are signing to “ban” Simms from doing Denver games in the future. It’s not just Broncos fans who are on board with this. Fans from the other 31 teams are signing it also.
Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) is sacked by Denver Broncos outside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The form won’t do what these people hope.
For those who think it will show Simms how much fans don’t like him, he doesn’t care. You don’t get in such a business to make fans like you. Since national broadcasts started, fans have felt the same way Broncos fans feel about Simms. And Cris Collinsworth. And Dan Fouts. And Jon Gruden. And Troy Aikman.
This isn’t new.
Old-school Broncos fans lived through this in the 1970s with Howard Cosell. Unlike Simms, Cosell did hate the Broncos and Denver. There were near riots every time Cosell did Monday Night games at Mile High, which wasn’t that often given how bad the team was.
The Simms petition makes Broncos fans seem childish and it doesn’t resolve the issue. Do you really need to hear what Simms or any of these other guys say to watch the game? To know what’s going on? If you don’t like the delay, just mute your TV.
What stations like CBS, Fox, ESPN and NBC need to do is offer the national broadcast but do so with the local announcing crew. That way, those who watched the Broncos-Chiefs game on Sunday (Sept. 14) in the Denver market would have heard Logan and Ed McCaffery. The Kansas City fans would have heard their local broadcast team. For fans outside either market, they would pick who they hear.
The NFL is a ratings and money machine. So what the NBA, NHL and MLB have done with the local networks, won’t even get looked at unless it delivers both factors. Still, it’s another option the NFL should consider. Let the teams control the broadcast. If you go that route, you still offer fans the option to select who they hear on national broadcasts.
The days of national telecasts are over. The play-by-play guys think we’re their friends and more often than not don’t know what it’s going on in the game. Color commentators will never clear the hurdle of fans thinking they’re idiots and they hate their team.
But that’s not the reason to rid ourselves of national broadcasts once and for all. The NFL needs to get in its Delorean and join us in 2014.
Get with the 21st century. This isn’t 1974.
Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; NFL former player Phil Simms (center) on the sidelines prior to Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O