By: Fish And Chad
2016 will find the United States wading through all the issues and electing a new President. So we at FantasyJAM thought we would get in on the act and through your votes, answer some of sports most pressing questions. In the month of January you voted to find out which was the greatest Super Bowl of all time, now it’s time to find out who you think the best announcer of all time is.
We have broken it down into four regions, and each region will get a column dedicated to it to give you a little more information on the announcers in the region.
Since liking a certain announcer is purely a subjective thing, these announcers are not ranked in any way and the match-ups were made to make the best possible outcomes in each region.
Region number 3 is made up of the ex-jocks. These guys all turned successful careers on the field of play to even more successful careers in the booth. While some guys in other regions may also have played the games, these guys are known for their exploits in BOTH areas.
We start off with a match-up pitting a World Champion coach against a World Champion player.
Frank Gifford was the voice of Monday Night Football for years, outlasting many of his co-horts on the show (he was on MNF for 27 years), he always seemed to be the one constant. On the field Gifford helped make the New York Giants one of the best and most feared teams of the 50’s.
While he is also known for being Kathie Lee’s husband, I think most people recognize him for the way he delivered the analysis on Monday Night Football. We lost Gifford to natural causes in August of 2015, but his voice lives on in many of the greatest MNF games ever played.
Ironically, the guy he is matched-up with is now known for the job he has done on MNF. Jon Gruden has been on the flagship show since the 2009 season, and has become quite adept at analyzing what is going on and breaking it down for the layman. While his announcing resume is small, he is a major factor in making the game watchable now.
Every year there seem to be rumors that he will leave the booth and return to the sidelines, but for now, he is sticking on MNF and we are the better for it.
Whatever team is able to lure him away is getting a championship coach, that’s for sure. In January of 2003 he became the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl when, in his first year in Tampa he led the Buccaneers to a 48-21 drubbing of his former team, the Oakland Raiders.
He has a career record of 95-81 as a Head man, in both Tampa and Oakland and as the offensive coordinator in Philly, he was able to get the Eagles to become one of the more feared offenses in the NFL.
The next match-up features two former NBAers who, while both incredible on the hardwood may have possibly supplanted that by their announcing.
Mark Jackson was the point guard of some very good Knicks teams in the late 80’s and early 90’s , then went on to have success with the Clippers, Pacers and even the Rockets before retiring. He was the 1988 Rookie of the Year and in 1997 led the NBA in Assists. He was a terrific point guard that had great vision and a solid jumper.
Upon retiring he went to ABC to join his former coach Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen to do the “A” game on the network. Each year Jackson has gotten better and better, and seems to be the only one who can keep Van Gundy settled. He did leave the booth in 2011 to coach the Warriors, but despite making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in over 20 years, he was fired and quickly ended up back in the booth doing games, “Hand Down, Man Down”.
He is going against a Hall of Fame player, who has an even better Hall of Fame mouth, in Charles Barkley. The Round Mound of Rebound had a stellar career with the 76ers, Suns and Rockets, including winning the MVP award in 1993 and being a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-time Team. He may be the greatest player to never win an NBA Title.
After making the NBA’s all-interview team for 13 seasons, it seemed natural for Sir Charles to move into announcing. It certainly was as he has been a host on TNT’s NBA Games (and now the NCAA Tournament as well) since 2000. He is the most popular host on the show, and is known to speak his mind no matter who it may offend. If anyone has found his true calling in life after sports, it has to be Sir Charles.
Our next match-up pits a guy who was annoying on the baseball diamond against a guy who has become annoying off of it.
Joe Morgan is a two time NL MVP , World Champ and Baseball Hall of Famer who had a long and illustrious career spent mostly with the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati and the San Francisco Giants. At 5’7” he was often one of the smallest guys on the field, but his hit tool along with his speed and defense made him one of the greatest second basemen of all time.
Since his career ended, Morgan has gone on to become a terrific baseball announcer. Working for a ton of networks, he is mostly known for teaming up with Jon Miller on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. It was there that most of America got to find out just how good he could be behind the mic. He never treated the audience as if they were stupid (Hello, Tim McCarver), but was also quick to explain things people may not have known. His post-season experience on the field, translated into knowing what it was like and conveying that on the mic.
He is squaring off the biggest homer of the bunch, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, Harrelson was relatively minor on the diamond, fitting more of the journeyman role with the A’s, Senators, Red Sox and Indians. He did lead the AL in RBI’s in 1968, and made his only all-star team that same season. Other than that though, Harrelson was never really known in baseball circles outside of the teams he played for.
But in 1982 Harrelson became the White Sox announcer, and a menace (and I mean that lovingly) was born. In 1986 he briefly left the booth to become the White Sox GM, but after just one season he was back on the air, this time with the Yankees.
He finally came back to the South Side in 1990 and has been calling Sox games ever since. There may not be a bigger homer in all of baseball, and it has almost made him endearing. Popular “Hawkisms” include: “You can put it on the board! Yes! Yes!” after a Sox home run, “He gone!” and/or “Grab some bench!” after a strikeout of an opposing player.
Our final match-up features QB’s whose teams have won a combined 5 Super Bowls and have become the color guy for each of their respective networks “A” announcing teams.
Troy Aikman was the first overall pick in 1989 by the Cowboys and played 12 seasons in Dallas winning 3 Super Bowls. Aikman was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006 and to the College Football Hall of Fame on December 9, 2008.
Aikman has been teamed in the booth with Joe Buck since his second year announcing, and has been fantastic. He is able to break down plays and give insight into games that very few have. His point of view as a former QB has allowed him to see the game from a different POV than other position players and allows him to pass on some of those nuances to the listening audience.
Aikman’s match-up here is against former NFC East foe Phil Simms. Simms is a two time Super Bowl winner, and won the MVP award for his performance in Super Bowl XXI. He is teamed with CBS number one announcer Jim Nantz, and looks as comfortable in the booth as he did under center.
Like Aikman , Simms time as a QB has allowed him to give some of those same insights, and he is able to expand that even more as he is also one of the hosts on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, a weekly highlight show that allows him to give more insight. His Giants had some serious battles with Aikman’s Cowboys when both played in the NFL, so we figured pitting them against each other one more time couldn’t hurt
So these are the eight Legends of Broadcasting that have been chosen, with all apologies to Ron Darling, Chris Collinsworth and Dan Fouts, to see who is the greatest ever.
Voting will begin after the February 4th episode of FantasyJAM and be sure to tune in EVERY THURSDAY at 8p est (5p pst) on WBAD.NET/Rock to hear us give the results and debate the merits of each entry, and head over to Twitter (@SportsJAMChad & @thefish1969) or Facebook (facebook.com/Fantasy_JAM) to vote on your favorite.
Next up, Region 4 The Big Names