Top Football Broadcasters: ARV Edition

↵You've seen the Sporting News Top 25 Football Broadcasters list, compiled by a group of knowledgeable and well respected members of the football media. ↵

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↵We wanted to do a rebuttal with the list's glaring omissions, but frankly, there aren't many, if any. So we thought it best to add a few more names -- we'll call it Also Receiving Votes -- that should be part of the football booth conversation. ↵

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↵First, we do have some quibbles with the order in which the panel of Sporting News and SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily editors and writers, ranked their names. Cris Collinsworth (2), Phil Simms (4) and Troy Aikman (6) are all listed ahead of their play-by-play counterparts. Some might say, especially in the case of Aikman, that their partners make them as good as they are. The panel did put Mike Tirico (11) ahead of his booth partners, but inexplicably put Jon Gruden (14) ahead of Ron Jaworski (16). ↵

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↵This media fascination with Gruden confounds me. He's great in the booth for a coach who recently got fired and spends a few quarters joking around because he's at the game and wants some face time on national TV. But as a member of the media calling a game? There's no way Gruden should be on this list, let alone in the top 15, ahead of Jaws. Besides, he's had half a season for his coachspeak and other mannerisms to grate on people. Some of these other names have been annoying us for 20 years. ↵

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↵I understand our colleagues at ESPN pumping Gruden up after every game because he's wearing their blazer. But for non-partisan writers to put Gruden ahead of analysts like Dan Fouts or Daryl Johnston, who is forced to call a game with Tony Siragusa stealing his time, is nothing more than stirring the pot. Gruden may eventually be better than some of the people on the list, but at this point, he seems rather mediocre. ↵

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↵Now, here's a list of names that should be mentioned as well -- our ARV: ↵

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↵1. Craig James/Jesse Palmer
↵Clearly the panel doesn't watch much Thursday night football on ESPN because there is no way that Chris Fowler should be ranked as low as 23. Sure Fowler is a better in the studio (or on campus), but he's still very good in the booth. So, too, are his partners Craig James and Jesse Palmer. Palmer, in just a few years, has really proven to be a rising star for ESPN's college coverage. James has been a solid analyst at CBS, ABC and ESPN for almost 20 years. ↵

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↵James does seem a bit cocksure in the booth, but he's proven that in most cases he knows of what he speaks. And besides, any guy who covers two nationally-televised college games in three days deserves some recognition. ↵

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↵2. Kenny Albert/Ian Eagle
↵Let's call this pairing the Disciples of Marv. There's nobody better in a booth than Marv Albert and it's a shame that he and Boomer Esiason, who call nearly every Monday Night Football game on radio, weren't eligible for the list (on TV announcers were considered). That pairing is as good as it gets. So, somewhat in tribute to Marv, and somewhat on their own merit, we recognize the duo of Kenny Albert and Ian Eagle. ↵

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↵Albert used to have a much more pronounced caricature of his father's voice when he first started in the business, but as his career has grown, so has his quality in the booth. He's definitely developed his own voice, and deservedly has become one of FOX's lead announcers. Eagle, connected to Marv in that he fills in for MNF radio calls and works with the Hall of Famer on New Jersey Nets broadcasts, is of the school of play-by-play men that gives us down-and-distance and gets out of the way. It's never about Eagle. He lets the play on the field, and the analysis of his partner, tell the story. There is something to be said for that. ↵

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↵3. Brian Billick
↵I haven't had much opportunity to listen to Billick call a game since FOX buries him down the roster, but if any recently-fired coach turned game analyst should be getting more attention, it's Billick. He is a very intelligent guy and has become an equally intelligent analyst, yet he manages to call the game without seeming arrogant, something he was unable to do as a coach. The panel can have Gruden, I'll take Billick. ↵

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↵4. Bob Griese/Brian Griese
↵One of the names I was surprised not to see on the list was Bob Griese, who has been calling games for ABC and ESPN forever. I still remember his call of the 1998 Rose Bowl when he was in the booth for his son Brian's last game. It reminded me of when Dale Jarrett won Daytona in '93 with his father Ned on the call. Moments like that, you don't forget. And Griese has been solid ever since. It'd be a shame if one bad joke about a taco tarnishes his legacy this much. ↵

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↵Here's the thing about Brian Griese -- he is just starting out in the business but already sounds just like his dad ... and not in the Kenny Albert-trying-to-sound-like-his- dad way, either. I watched the first game Griese called in the booth, and while he was nervous early on, he gained composure throughout the game. By the fourth quarter, I had forgotten it wasn't Bob. Give him some time, and he could be moving up the list quickly. ↵

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↵5. Pam Ward
↵Let's start by saying this: Pam Ward does not belong on a list of the Top 25 football broadcasters. Some might say that if we were voting on the worst announcers in the booth, she'd be on every single ballot. She wasn't the first woman to do football play-by-play and hopefully won't be the last, but right now she's all we got. And that has to count for something. ↵

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↵Football has long been a sport where men are in the booth and women troll -- perhaps the word I'm looking for is patrol -- the sidelines, getting maybe two or three minutes of air the entire game, while the men get to spend three hours yapping upstairs. Ward has managed to infiltrate the old boy's club and does, most weeks, a solid job covering the game. Let's be clear -- if she is ARV, she's in no way in danger of cracking the Top 25. Ward is like the FCS team that gets the occasional vote just to remind people not to forget about the little guy, or in this case, gal. We have her on our list in hopes that her career inspires other women to break through the 'good ol' boys' glass ceiling. As you can see by the list, we could use some fresh faces. ↵

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↵ARV of ARV
↵Mark Jones, Kevin Harlan, Dan Dierdorf, Matt Millen, Dave Pasch, Solomon Wilcots, Tom Hammond, Dave Ryan, Chris Spielman, Steve Tasker, Dick Stockton. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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