I've been keeping this little secret for a while now. 4 days in fact. Yep, it's true. I did actually watch some preseason football. I didn't mean to, it just sorta happened. I'm still bitter about it. For many reasons actually, far too many. And surprisingly the score and the overall play (read: sucked worse than Caddyshack II) weren't the top offenders. I was reminded, for the umpteenth time, that the announcer's booth at a football game is apparently where idiots go to die.
Much has already been said by media critics and football people about the new Monday Night Football team. I'm indifferent on the subject because I don't know if I've ever heard a well-called football game. So a new team in the booth may be terrible, or good, or even interesting, but I've never heard a great one. Have you? Somehow I doubt it.
When the absolute height of modern broadcasting is Pat Summerall and John Madden you know that you're in for a non-stop crapfest. Back when they were a team Summerall would routinely remind people that he had no idea what was going on by screwing up player's names, down and distance and the basics of the game. The irony of this being that Pat was so infuriating to listen to that he drove me to drink, and as we all know the ol' drinky is probably about 90% of why Summerall had no short term memory in the booth. It's a vicious cycle.
So tell me - why is it that each announcing team acts as if we have never seen a football game before? Why would they do that? Do they think they're still attracting new fans with each game? And if so, do they really think the new viewer couldn't figure out that the corner was reading the qb's eyes before making a pick? Seriously? I hate that. More than anything else about football I hate that the announcers act as if they're explaining a game to a 12 year old. All the best things in life come without explanation. It's the viewers/readers job to sort them out. Great art, The Wire on HBO, a puzzle or a game of chess. It's worth figuring out. Why can't football be the same way?
The MNF crew this year will not be any more interesting or revolutionary than any other broadcasting booth out there. That's the sad part. The new booth for ESPN is, in many ways, a perfect breakdown of their station as a whole. You have the retired jock who thinks he knows everything and is generally defensive of the players (who he thinks he relates to when that is no longer the case). You have the previously well-respected journalist who must now be overly opinionated or vicious just to, if nothing else, serve as a counterpoint to all the fawning from the ex-jock hoisted on the players. Then, of course, you have the professional broadcaster, the guy who has no discernible skills other than making sure people keep on talking when they're supposed to and shut up when they're not. Is that not a breakdown of every show on ESPN now?
Preseason action is pointless for the most part for the teams involved. They already know what their plan is, who they want to cut and why, all of that. They just look for a little more evidence. But preseason up in the booth? That ain't gonna change when the games start to matter. They're still going to suck out loud. And that is the saddest part of all.