When it comes to sportscasters, few have been around as long as Greg Gumbel. He started in 1973. He is 75 years old. (I couldn’t believe it.)
And so Greg Gumbel knows a thing or two about broadcasting. He knows a thing or two about NFL broadcasting. Recently appeared on the IS Media Podcast along with Jimmy Traina, Gumbel weighed in on the gigantic contracts recently awarded to people who will work on NFL games.
“I’ll tell you, it got crazy,” Gumbel told Traina. “I don’t need to be jealous. I was treated very well and always enjoyed what I was able to do for a very, very long time. So I guess it doesn’t concern me. What tickles my thought process is that I’ve never felt in my entire life that there was an announcer who could get someone on TV to watch a game that that viewer wasn’t already going watch. And I believe the only thing a broadcaster can do is chase people away.
So who is chasing people?
“I won’t name them – but there are three or four announcers, ‘Oh, I’m really interested in watching, oops, no, click, gone,'” Gumbel said. “I really believe that. I don’t think anyone goes online just to hear a specific person calling a football game.
Gumbel raised another important point. The best broadcast teams benefit from broadcasting the best games.
“Since the days of Pat Summerall and John Madden,” Gumbel said. “Pat and John were great. I wanted to be inspired by Pat Summerall. He didn’t talk too much. He was underestimated. He was specific about the things he said. And they were great. But how not to be great when you do Giants-Cowboys, Bears-Packers, Rams-49ers, Eagles-Giants? . . . Moe, Larry and Curly – no offense to anyone calling plays – Moe, Larry and Curly can make a good game of football.
It’s a point we made because the money recently came from ESPN and Amazon. If you put the worst announcer team on a big game and the best announcer team on a dog shit game would anyone tune in to the dog poo contest featuring the best announcers in the industry? Surely not.
Still, the networks apparently think part of the effort to appease the NFL includes overpaying for so-called “top” talent to call out so-called “top” plays. It will be interesting to see if the league continues to endorse this approach, given that Amazon’s interest in Rams coach Sean McVay has no doubt forced Rams owner Stan Kroenke to dig deep. in the sofa cushions of his superyacht to keep McVay.
That said, it won’t happen very often. Once the best places are occupied, the people occupying them will surely not try to leave. So the leverage that landed in McVay’s lap might not happen again anytime soon.