High-Priced Sports Analysts Who Don’t Know When to Shut Up
Published by Phil Mushnick on Oct. 19, 2023, 8:44 p.m. ET
If TV networks didn’t take pride in their profound ignorance and fiscal insanity, their offices wouldn’t be large and gaudy. Instead, they’d be more like broom closets. But they exist for a reason. They are where telecasts are first received, leading us down a path of insanity and into the arms of reverse mortgage commercials. There must be a room where a Fox exec decides that the nation adores MLB analyst John Smoltz, despite his inability to be concise. Surely, this exec is not a sports fan or else he wouldn’t subject us to Smoltz’s never-ending commentary.
Reader Damian Digulian points out, “Smoltz literally talks the entire game.” Reader Joe Kane adds, “He complicates everything, taking us on a journey after every pitch.” If only Smoltz had the brevity and simplicity of these readers. How has Fox been so wrong for so long, not realizing the damage they are doing to this significant national assignment?
It’s the same story with Fox’s lead NFL analyst, Greg Olsen, who can’t tell a story without layers of unnecessary details. And when the Giants falter, we are subjected to the unbearable Mark Schlereth, warming up in Fox’s bullpen for mop-up duties. Or Moose “The Non-Story Long” Johnston, who has been plaguing Fox’s NFL telecasts since 2001.
As someone who has been in this job for 50 years, I have never witnessed such a disregard for sense in exchange for ridiculousness, or calm and well-spoken analysis for rehearsed noise and shallow excitement. The primary targets are the viewers, who are now subjected to these moronic analysts.
Now, terms like “scrambling for a first down” have been replaced by “extending the play to move the chains by reaching the line to gain.” Running off guard or tackle is now “running downhill” or “north and south.” The impossible concept of “tackles in space” is now referenced and, as Olsen said, the Browns were “looking to avoid a negative loss.” Play calling has been substituted with “Dialing up a play.” But, as they say on roadside maps, “You Are Here.”
Currently, I have never seen or heard more criticism of sports TV from sports fans. But quality no longer matters to TV executives who spend millions on voices that ruin telecasts, when they could spend much less. Instead of bumping Cris Collinsworth’s salary from $4.5 million to $12.5 million, NBC should have realized that he is widely unpopular. Let him go and hire someone who brings us the necessary information about down and distance. It worked well for the great names of the past like Marty Glickman, Chris Schenkel, Jack Buck, Spencer Ross, Pat Summerall, and Charlie Jones.
And let’s not forget that CBS pays Tony Romo a whopping $18 million per year. While some may like him, he is not worth a penny more than $17 million. And do we really need Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who earn a combined $34 million per year, on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”? This excessive spending also leads to cheap tokenism, as networks hire women purely to achieve on-camera gender diversity. As long as they bring some excitement, anyone will do, regardless of whether that excitement is genuine or not and whether it even benefits the viewers or the network.
It’s ridiculous that tried-and-failed MLB prime-time analyst Jessica Mendoza was brought back to this season’s playoffs. We didn’t need to hear her repeat the same lines over and over again while showing us multiple replays of a home run. And then there are the screamers, the excitement fabricators who don’t even know why they are shouting. It’s a chaotic time to be a sports fan.
But that’s not the only issue plaguing the sports media. Soccer fans could see the Middle East tensions building up, even when U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies missed the signs. It’s clear that Islam and Western democratic values are incompatible, as they have been for centuries. Yet, in the U.S., the issue is debated as if it’s up for discussion. Meanwhile, New Yorkers who harbor anti-Semitic beliefs should prove their convictions by refusing to receive emergency treatment in hospitals endowed by Jewish families. Sports media has never been more detached from reality and so focused on rankings that change every week.
Speaking of context, Tony Kornheiser just lost his by stating that the Jets haven’t beaten the Eagles in 55 years. However, that’s only over the course of 13 games. We can’t trust the exaggerated and misleading statistics provided by ESPN’s graphics department.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that Coach Flim-Flam is blaming his chosen transfers for Colorado’s losses. Deion Sanders once had “60 Minutes” believing he had a direct line to God. This world has become a place of absurdity and we are forced to witness it all.
ohn Smith is your NFL insider, providing in-depth coverage of football’s biggest league. With a passion for the game and a keen eye for statistics, John delivers game analysis, player profiles, and breaking news to keep readers updated on all things NFL.