This is not a paid political announcement. Thankfully huh?
You will not read about the Electoral College. There will be no mention of blue states or red states. However, I did hold an election, the voting machines all worked, there were no lines to stand in and it all went off without a hitch. That’s because the election I’m talking about took place in my living room. The candidates were selected by me and the winners were also chosen by, yes you guessed it, me.
I should probably explain. My election is all about all-time play-by-play announcers, both past and present. I selected who should be the “President” of each of the four major sports leagues, NCAA Football and Golf.
The undertaking was a little more daunting than I thought it might have been. In a couple of cases the choice was extremely clear and in others not so much. So, the criteria are, which announcer is the one in each of the mentioned sports that others would look to for “leadership and influence”. To make it easier on me, I’ve chosen a President and Vice President for each.
President: Vin Scully
Surprised? Vin Scully is presidential in the way he calls/called games. The style is friendly, yet authoritative. Scully had a command over a broadcast that was unmatched in the game. Working as a solo act most of the latter part of his career, his work became like a ‘fireside chat’ (for you millennials, google it).
Vin was so easy to listen to, because he spoke to his listeners directly and you almost felt part of the broadcast. Staying power was also in Scully’s resume, nearly 70 years with the Dodgers for one, plus countless network opportunities, calling baseball for CBS and NBC. Perhaps two of his most famous calls took place as a network broadcaster in the World Series. There was the 1986 call of the ball getting by Bill Buckner and the 1988 home run by Kirk Gibson off of Dennis Eckersley. Both were incredible in the moment and have lasted the test of time. He is the model all others look to as the standard in the sport. Oh, and did I mention he’s one of the best human beings to ever walk the earth?
Vice President: Jack Buck
This was not an easy choice, but Buck emerged as my selection based on longevity, network experience and being known for several calls along the way. Buck was a fixture with the Cardinals for 40 plus years and had that great deep and somewhat raspy voice that won fans over. His most famous call came in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS when Ozzie Smith hit a walk-off homer, “Go crazy folks, go crazy!”. Buck worked in the NFL too and was the national radio voice of Monday Night Football alongside Hank Stram in the 1990’s.
Cabinet positions for (in no particular order): Red Barber, Curt Gowdy, Harry Kalas, Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray, Bill King, Bob Costas, Marty Brenneman, Jon Miller, Milo Hamilton, Dan Shulman, and Bob Uecker.
President: Pat Summerall
In the late ‘70’s and most of the 80’s, Pat Summerall was the voice of the NFL. If it was a big game in football, chances are pretty good he was on the call. Summerall worked his way up the ranks and became the network’s lead NFL voice, paired first with Tom Brookshier and then of course with John Madden. The latter pairing worked together for 22 years on both CBS and Fox.
Summerall called 16 Super Bowls on TV. He was perfect for television, complimenting the pictures on the screen with a baritone name of the player, then the result of that play. Summerall subscribed to the “less is more” theory and it proved successful in his career. He had a great way of making his partner the focal point.
I’m sure as a former player he knew a lot about the game, but as a great play-by-play guy, he deferred in many cases. Summerall was named the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio and Television Award winner in 1994. He proved a versatile broadcaster as well, serving as CBS’s lead announcer on its PGA Tour coverage.
Vice President: Al Michaels
What can’t this guy do? This “presidential” race was close. While Michaels might be best known for his “Do you believe in miracles?” call in 1980 when the US beat Russia in hockey, he’s been a mainstay in the NFL.
Michaels took over Monday Night Football after the Howard Cosell era and kept that ship afloat. He then moved to NBC, teaming with John Madden and then Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. So, you’ll probably notice that Michaels appears in several of these sports’ top tiers, doing baseball and basketball in addition to his football work. One of the more well-known broadcasters of several generations is certainly more than qualified as the VP in this category.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Jim Nantz, Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, Joe Buck, Jack Buck, Howard Cosell, Dick Stockton, Frank Gifford, Charlie Jones, Lindsey Nelson, Ian Eagle, Kenny Albert and Greg Gumbel.
President: Marty Glickman
When I wrote an earlier piece on Marv Albert, the name Marty Glickman came up a lot. Marty was a mentor to Marv and many other soon to be broadcasters. Glickman entered broadcasting in 1939 with a job in radio. In 1946 he became the radio voice of the Knicks, a post he held for decades. He also was the play-by-play man for the New York (Football) Giants, the Nets, the Jets, the Dodgers (Brooklyn) and Yankees. Pretty impressive resume.
Perhaps the most “presidential” thing he did in his storied career was to mentor young broadcasters. I already mentioned Albert, but he also served in the same role for Bob Costas, Bob Papa and Ian Eagle among others. Glickman is credited with coining the basketball terms, the lane, key, midcourt stripe and swish. That’s called leaving a mark on a sport.
Vice President: Marv Albert
It only seems fitting that the student follows the teacher in this category. Albert’s voice is unmistakable, his excitement with every call, that wit and of course the catch phrases, including “YES”. He’s among the best to ever call the sport, but again we deferred to the teacher, followed by the protégé.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Mike Breen, Chick Hearn, Jim Durham, Kevin Harlan, Johnny Most, Ian Eagle, Dave Pasch and Dick Stockton.
President: Mike Emrick
As I wrote last month, Mike “Doc” Emrick is as good as it gets in a sport. Doc announced his retirement after nearly 50 years of calling hockey as a professional. His command of the English language and hockey is unmatched in a broadcaster. Not only was he the top of the heap in the booth, everyone you talk to, feels he is the top of the mountain as a human being. To this day he listens to young broadcasters’ tapes to give them pointers, nurturing the next generation of announcers. You knew it was an important game when Doc was on the call.
Vice President: Bob Miller
Miller wrapped up a legendary career with the LA Kings a few years ago. Miller was with the Kings since 1973, so you know he became THE credible source for hockey in Southern California. Being around that long affords you the opportunity to speak your mind. Those that listened to him, understand he wasn’t afraid to tell you what he thought. Miller also had a great reputation for telling great stories with his easy going style and personality he really made it work well for many years behind the mic.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Gary Thorne, Lloyd Petit, Jiggs McDonald, Mike Lange, Dan Kelly, Bob Cole, Foster Hewitt, Dave Strader, Sam Rosen and Howie Rose.
President: Keith Jackson
“Whoa Nellie!”, “Fum-BLE!” and “Hold the phone” were just a few of well-known expressions uttered by Keith Jackson. He missed just one college football season in his 50-year career, because he was doing play-by-play for the inaugural season of Monday Night Football in 1970. He was the ultimate in “big game” college football announcers in his day. Big weekly matchups and big bowl games were his calling card.
The voice was folksy and warm and the catch phrases weren’t contrived, they fit the style and seemed so natural. How can he not be “president” when he basically renamed Michigan Stadium, “The Big House”, giving it the nickname that it’s still known by today. Jackson is also credited with naming the Rose Bowl, “the Grandaddy of them All”. The stadium’s radio and TV booths were named “The Keith Jackson Broadcast Center” in 2015 and a statue of him was erected outside the stadium earlier this year. Talk about an impact. Jackson was also well known for calling Major League Baseball, the NBA, NFL and contributed to ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
Vice President: Vern Lundquist
Our VP has quite his own resume. He was the radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys until 1984, calling legendary games like the “Ice Bowl” and several Super Bowls. He moved to ABC calling a few college football games, but the talent pool made it difficult for him to ascend. He moved to CBS to call college basketball, golf and the NFL. After a brief departure to Turner Sports, Verne returned to CBS and became its voice of the SEC.
Lundquist called many a huge game, but he’s quoted as saying the best one was the 2013 Iron Bowl when Auburn beat Alabama on a 109-yard return of a missed field-goal attempt with one second on the clock.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Lindsey Nelson, Brad Nessler, Chris Fowler, Brent Musburger, Ron Franklin, Chris Schenkel, Sean McDonough and Gus Johnson.
President: Jim Nantz
“Hello friends…” Jim Nantz has been a fixture in the 18th tower during CBS’ coverage of the PGA Tour. Hard to remember a time when he wasn’t the anchor of the coverage.
I wrote in my “Anatomy of a Broadcaster: Jim Nantz” on July 2nd, “He’s got that perfect tone for the tower on 18. Nantz has the ability to paint a picture with his words, even though you can see those pictures on your television. That’s not easy to do. He sets scenes at the beginning of each day’s golf coverage and it almost sounds like a song. It’s on the melodious side and ear pleasing as well.” My thoughts on that haven’t changed, he’s the standard to me in golf broadcasting. Can’t wait for the Masters to fire up here soon!
Vice President: Dan Hicks
Hicks has served as lead play-by-play host of NBC Sports’ PGA TOUR Golf Channel on NBC tournament coverage since 2000. He’s been part of NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup, the President’s Cup, and dating back to 2007, two World Golf Championships, all a part of network television’s premier golf package. Like Nantz, Hicks sets the stage well and does a great job of handling the reins on an interesting group of characters on the telecast. That broadcast includes David Feherty who is always quick with his wit and unique sense of humor. Also keep in mind, Hicks worked with Johnny Miller who always kept him on his toes.
Cabinet positions (in no particular order): Pat Summerall, David Feherty, Terry Gannon, Verne Lundquist, Dottie Pepper, Gary McCord and Peter Kostis.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.
790 The Ticket Was Something Special And Stugotz Knows It
“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen, that they’ve ever heard.”
When I was making the transition from the rock world to talk radio, there was one show I looked at as a guide. I got laid off from 96 Rock in Raleigh, NC in the summer of 2011. That was the beginning of my flirtations with streaming and podcasts, which is how I stumbled onto The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on 790 The Ticket out of Miami.
Coming from a format that I felt out of place in at times, I instantly latched onto a show that reveled in pointing out how out of place it was in its own format. It became a daily listen for me, which opened me up to hearing other voices on the station like Jonathan Zaslow, Joy Taylor, Brian London, Brendan Tobin, Brett Romberg and others.
There were unique thinkers and passionate sports fans in every day part on 790 The Ticket. What set the station apart though is that I never heard anyone that sounded uncomfortable when the conversation turned to something that wasn’t a Dolphins’ loss or LeBron’s stat line. They talked sports the way normal human beings talk about sports. It was part of their lives, not the only thing they paid attention to.
Look at the outpouring of love for the station on Thursday. Hosts, producers and programmers from across the country took to social media to eulogize the station when the news broke that it would cease to exist the following week.
I can’t say for sure that all of those people felt the same way I did about the station and I cannot say whether or not it was for the same reasons. What I can say is 790 The Ticket had an influence that stretched far beyond South Florida.
Jon Weiner, better known as “Stugotz” to fans of the The Dan Le Batard Show, helped start the station in 2004. He told me that it didn’t take long for him to learn just how much The Ticket’s approach was making an impression on everyone in sports radio.
“I had programmers calling me saying this is the best local lineup that they’ve ever seen or heard,” he said in a phone call on Sunday. “I had people from out of market who had secure jobs at places that weren’t startups sending resumes and tapes because they wanted to be part of it. So yeah, we were aware and it is what we were going for. We got there pretty quickly and we were aware of the impact, not just in South Florida, but throughout the country.”
Last week, Brian “The Beast” London said his internal alarm bells first went off when he heard the Miami Heat were giving up their relationship with 790 the Ticket. The station and the team had been partners since 2008. He said in a YouTube video that it was hard to imagine the team’s games being heard anywhere else.
I asked Stugotz if he had the same feeling when he heard that news. He said in hindsight, he realized it was the beginning of the end, but he didn’t really get a sense something was up until Jonathan Zaslow was let go.
“[Zaslow] had been there since basically day one with us. And so I just kind of figured, yeah, between the Heat and then that I felt, okay, you don’t make a move like that unless there’s going to be some sort of seismic change. Otherwise, there’d be no reason to let him go. That was the moment I was like ‘okay, 790 is likely going away.'”
His feelings are no secret. He took to social media immediately on Thursday and said that the news that 790 The Ticket would soon be going away filled him with both sadness and pride. What Stugotz told me in our phone call was that he realizes that the station lasted about 15 years longer than it should have.
When the station was sold to Lincoln Financial Media, he was not expecting that company to want to keep a sports station. Senior Vice President Dennis Collins surprised him.
“The company saw so much potential in what we had built, both from a lineup and a sales perspective that they kept it going and that’s why it lasted all the way to 2022. We got it up and going and were responsible for the first three or four years, but Dennis saw the growth potential with the lineup we put together. That made me feel great because I had a pit in my stomach like ‘Oh, man, this thing we started is going to go away. It’s going to be three, four years and gone.’ And he said, ‘No, we love it. We want to keep it going’. So that was a huge compliment to everyone.”
Stugotz described the original owner of 790 The Ticket as a “young, good looking real estate mogul driving around in Lamborghinis.” That certainly helped the image of the station when it launched, but it is also a phenomenon that was very of the moment. It’s not 2004 anymore. Lamborghini-owning real estate moguls aren’t chomping at the bit to pour money into radio stations.
The conditions may be similar to what Stugotz and his partners saw in 2004. You could look at the radio landscape in Miami and see a way that a new challenger could fit in the sports radio scene. But what are the chances it actually happens?
“It’s a great question,” Stugotz said. “So just to go back to that time, two sports radio stations were popping up in every market. I’m not certain if that’s still the case anymore just because of podcasting and the way the way younger people are consuming media through Tik Tok, Snapchat, and other things that aren’t AM radio.”
He is quick to commend Audacy, the current owners of the 790 AM frequency. Dan Le Batard and Jorge Sedano were part of his early lineups at 790 The Ticket because Stugotz recognized the Cuban-American community in Miami was not being served in the sports space in 2004, just like it isn’t being properly served in the news/talk space right now. That’s why there’s room for the conservative-leaning brand Radio Libre in Miami and other markets are likely paying attention.
“It seems like a good plan, and I know it’s something that the Spanish population should have and deserves to have and probably was not being catered to correctly. So, yeah, I could see there’s a warning sign to some other sports radio stations or news stations in other markets where the Hispanic population is great. Absolutely!”
It is a shame that 790 The Ticket is no more and it is concerning that a station with its legacy and influence can simply disappear. But if we are being real, it isn’t the first station of its kind to suffer that fate and it won’t be the last.
As the media business changes and leaves sports stations vulnerable to something cheaper and with broader appeal, 790 The Ticket and stations like it should be touted as examples of how to rise above the noise and make an impact. Stugotz and his partners looked around in 2004 and said “we can be different and we can do this better” and that’s exactly what they did.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.
Chris Simms And His Self-Professed ‘Big Mouth’ Enjoying Life At NBC
“One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”
To be a good football analyst, one certainly has to know and love the sport but you also can’t be afraid to use the most important tool that you have to do the job. Chris Simms has all of those attributes and NBC lets him use them to the best of his abilities.
“I love football and I love X’s and O’s and I got a big mouth so it’s a great combination,” said Simms. “Between my podcast, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Sunday Night Football, I get plenty of time to talk and get my studies out there.”
There’s no doubt that Chris inherited that self-professed big mouth from his father, former NFL quarterback and longtime NFL on CBS analyst, Phil Simms.
So, the question had to be asked…does Chris have a bigger mouth than his father?
“Yeah, I probably do,” admitted the younger Simms. “That’s a big mouth to overcome, but I think I probably got him beat in that department.”
Chris Simms set out to follow in his father’s footsteps on the field and played quarterback for Ramapo High School in New Jersey where he earned a pair of All-State honors. After graduating high school in 1999, Simms moved on to play quarterback at the University of Texas where he posted a 26-6 career record as a starter and was the team MVP during his senior season in 2002.
Simms was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and he would guide the Bucs to a playoff berth in 2005. He would also go on to play for the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos completing a seven-year NFL playing career. He spent one season as an assistant coach with the New England Patriots before taking his talents to the world of broadcasting.
He started with FOX Sports as a college football announcer in 2013 and then joined Bleacher Report in 2014 while also serving as a color commentator for the NFL on CBS.
And then in 2017, Simms joined NBC Sports where he has certainly found a home.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Simms. “It’s a great company to work for. Just good people all around. They’ve given me the platform to be me. One of the things that I worried about was that I came from Bleacher Report and is NBC going to try to curtail my personality a little bit…sometimes I like to swear on my podcast and do stuff like that and they’ve really allowed me to be me which I really appreciate.”
Simms wears many different suits at NBC Sports, most notably his role as a studio analyst on Football Night in America leading into Sunday Night Football. He’s also a part of the SNF post-game show Sunday Night Football Final on Peacock, Pro Football Talk with Mike Florio, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned, a streaming/digital show that is also a podcast multiple days a week.
But the most eyeballs are on him during Football Night in America, the most watched studio show in sports.
“I grew up wanting to play in these games more than be the guy in the studio but this is like the second-best thing,” said Simms. “I was kind of that kid at 4 or 5 (years old) who could tell you every player in the NFL, their number and all that type of stuff. It’s the NFL on the biggest stage. It’s such a well-done show. I get to be there with Maria Taylor along with Tony Dungy, and Jason Garrett, and Mike Florio, and Matthew Berry. We got a great team and it makes Sunday fun.”
From the “it takes one to know one” category, Simms has also made a name for himself with his ranking of NFL quarterbacks. He’s very diligent when it comes to watching the live action and also in his film study and his top-40 rankings have become a hot topic within the business and around the office coolers.
Simms is well aware that his rankings have become a lightning rod of discussion.
“It all kind of started organically just because I would make statements,” said Simms. “People were like ‘Why don’t you start making a list?’ It’s a really hard thing to do. It offends a lot of people and I hate that. I root for all of these guys and I say on my podcast all the time I hope this guy proves me wrong. I hope he shits on me and shows me that I was wrong. It’s certainly not personal. One of the things I pride myself on is studying and immersing myself in the game all of the time.”
Simms became a full-time employee of NBC Sports in 2019, but his first role with the network came in 2017 when he became a studio analyst for Notre Dame Football.
Here’s a kid that grew up in North Jersey where there’s a ton of Notre Dame alumni and he’s standing on the sidelines at South Bend as part of Fighting Irish telecasts.
“Another special entity,” said Simms. “I used to get chills being out on the field every Saturday there. It gave me great experience in a different way with the halftime show and the pre-game show. One of the years I was kind of the third man in the booth but I was on the sideline. It gave me some reps on in-game stuff as well. I think most importantly what that did for me more than anything is that it opened up more eyes at NBC about me.”
And now Simms’ work has him in the discussion for a new potential opportunity down the road.
NBC, alongside FOX and CBS, has secured a seven-year media rights deal with the Big Ten Conference that will commence next season. NBC will air Big Ten Saturday Night, the first time that Big Ten Football will have a dedicated primetime broadcast on a national broadcast network. Peacock will stream an additional eight Big Ten games each season and NBC/Peacock will air the 2026 Big Ten Championship Game.
There have been rumblings that Simms could be involved in the coverage. Is he interested?
“I’m intrigued by it,” admitted Simms. “I’m very all NFL right now but broadcasting game is fun. It’s definitely something on my radar for sure. I do have some producers here in the building that are like ‘I’m going to tell the boss I want you to do some of the Big 10 games this year and what do you think about announcing?’ I’ve already had some people in my ear talking about it. It’s awesome for the company regardless. It just expands our football world. As far as me being involved, we’ll see.”
In a relatively short amount of time, Chris Simms has built up quite the broadcasting portfolio. From FOX to Bleacher Report and CBS to his current expanded role with NBC, Simms has established himself as one of the premier NFL analysts in the business and his podcast has given him the freedom to do something that he loves to do. Including putting his money where his mouth is.
Peter Schwartz has been involved in New York sports media for over three decades. Along the way he has worked for notable brands such as WFAN, CBS Sports Radio, WCBS 880, ESPN New York, and FOX News Radio. He has also worked as a play by play announcer for the New Yok Riptide, New York Dragons, New York Hitmen, Varsity Media and the Long Island Sports Network. You can find him on Twitter @SchwartzSports or email him at DragonsRadio@aol.com.
The Pat McAfee Alternate Broadcast Presents Unique Challenges
Alternate broadcasts are all the rage these days, and ESPN, in conjunction with Omaha Productions, debuted a new one this weekend as The Pat McAfee Show aired an alternate broadcast of the Clemson and North Carolina State game Saturday evening.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that Manningcast copy-cats were destined for failure. And while I don’t believe McAfee’s debut was a failure by any stretch of the imagination, I couldn’t help but notice it brings its own set of challenges.
First and foremost, College Football Primetime with The Pat McAfee Show — the world’s most convoluted way to say “The McAfeecast” — doesn’t really resemble the Manningcast. And rightfully so. I’m not sure there are two more polar opposite sports media brands than the Mannings and McAfee. The Mannings are funny, but not too funny and never “blue”, while often concerned about how finely quaffed their hair looks and whether the button-down shirt color matches with the Nordstrom quarter-zip they’ve donned. Meanwhile, McAfee wears his black tank-top, like usual, and put his best Pittsburgh-ese foot forward.
Even though the Mannings and McAfee are opposites doesn’t mean they can’t work together, however. The alternate broadcast was a win for Manning, a win for McAfee, a win for ESPN, and a win for viewers.
People love Pat McAfee. Plain and simple. For a multitude of reasons that we can get into in a later story, but let’s focus on that for a moment. It was a big portion of my column a few weeks ago. The Manningcast works because people like Peyton and Eli. The KayRodcast doesn’t work because people hate Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. It’s honestly, truly, that simple.
I think it benefitted the McAfeecast to debut with a smaller game, which seems counterintuitive because it was a matchup of top ten teams in primetime. But let’s be realistic, a number five versus number ten ACC game doesn’t hold the same weight as a number five versus number ten Big Ten or SEC game. And it helped McAfee and crew, because there are obvious kinks to work out.
Firstly, there are entirely too many people on the screen. I’m going to have nice words to say about BostonConnr than the eight-and-a-half-year-old that went viral earlier this summer, but god love ya, your time to shine likely isn’t on primetime on ESPN. In my opinion, for the McAfeecast to really work in the future, a similar setup to the Manningcast with McAfee and A.J. Hawk being the prominent figures on screen is the best solution to the problem. I know McAfee believes in his boys. It’s one of his more endearing qualities, and is frankly part of the reason his show is so successful. But you’re reaching a different audience on ESPN2 on Saturday nights, and the reason the either tuned in or will stay is because of McAfee’s presence.
I didn’t get a great feel for McAfee’s thoughts or reactions on the game simply because you didn’t get a closeup of his face. The best moments of the Manningcast, outside of Eli flipping the double birds or Peyton saying “I can’t hear shit”, have been when the pair have been absolutely disgusted by a decision made by a coach or player and their face shows it without any words following up their reactions. And McAfee definitely holds that ability, and I wish I would have gotten a better sense of his facial reactions on-screen.
Also, and I know this is something McAfee can’t actually control, he had to be a bit more reserved on cable television. Part of the allure of The Pat McAfee Show is the — let’s call it extreme candor — with which he speaks. I believe that’s the scholarly way to write “he says f*** frequently”. And believe me, I subscribe to the theory that the FCC should allow hosts the ability to say obscenities 15 times per week, so I’m down for McAfee’s swearing. But you’re just simply never going to get that on ESPN2. You’re likely never going to get that if the broadcast aired on ESPN+, either. For a “family friendly” company Disney, those cards are just flat out never going to be on the table for McAfee.
One of the things McAfee is known for is his boundless energy, which felt lacking at times on Saturday, but it’s understandable. The man was on College GameDay earlier in the day, flew back to the studio to do the alternate broadcast after travelling the day before to get to Clemson to be on GameDay. I’m sure that takes a toll. On top of that, you’re doing something new for the first time, while trying to, essentially, heard cats on the screen, and you can be a little wiped out by the end of the night.
However, the goodwill McAfee has bought with fans over his extreme generosity was on display as the alternate broadcast donated more than $100,000 to Dabo Swinney’s charity, The Jimmy V Foundation, and the American Red Cross. It was a brilliant move for a debut broadcast, because it acts as a slight shield for criticism. How can you complain about something that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity?
The alternate broadcast, for the most part, avoided the biggest problem I have with the Manningcast. The interviews. I’ve never been watching Monday Night Football, or the Manningcast for that matter, and thought “Man, I wish they were talking to Tracy Morgan right now!” McAfee brought on Peyton Manning, for obvious reasons, and former NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers. That’s it. They didn’t rely on guests to carry them through down periods. The eight folks on screen did most of the heavy lifting, and for that, I thank them.
The McAfeecast was certainly different than any other alternate broadcast I’ve consumed. The crew shooting hoops for extra donations to charity during stoppages of play definitely kept things light and interesting. I couldn’t help but be invested in whether or not someone would bury three out of five threes during an injury timeout for more money for charity.
Speaking of injury timeouts, McAfee planned a giveaway and told fans to use a certain hashtag and when to screenshot or take a picture of their TV. Immediately following him saying “now!”, an injured player appeared on the screen, and he instantly shouted “No! Not now! No! We don’t want that, and we hope he’s ok”. It was a light-hearted, nearly hilarious moment that brought levity to the situation.
The highlight of the cast, however, was — in true McAfee style — picking up on things other broadcasters wouldn’t, like an angry fan. The entire crew shouting at the same time in this specific moment was spectacular television.
Overall, I thought the McAfeecast got off on the right foot. There is undeniably a market for an alternate broadcast based around the former NFL punter’s personality, and I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.