SIBORSPACE: Why athletes can't talk the talk
As a former broadcast journalism major, I understand how difficult it is to put together a TV show and constantly contribute meaningful commentary. It is certainly a sizable challenge, and one that you really can't fully appreciate until you try to do it. If you aren't qualified and well trained, it shows once you get in the booth and attempt to analyze what you see in front of you as it unfolds.
I am amazed, then, that networks continue to trot out former players as commentators of color. They never cease to amaze with their nonsensical attempts at intelligent conversation and shrewd observation. I don't like to generalize, but I will anyway; these guys are rarely well-educated. They were playing sports and partying in college (if they went at all), not learning the ins and outs of the television business. As a result, instead of giving us key insight we couldn't get from sitting around in our living rooms, they stick to the standard clichés and repeated catch phrases that are truly irritating more than anything else. There are several commentators in particular who rouse my ire:
Dan Dierdorf: Tough to hate on him because he's a Michigan man, but in reality he only has about three go-to comments. On every single play that gets challenged, you can count on Dierdorf telling us to remember that there must be "conclusive" or "indisputable" visual evidence. He generally defies the commonly accepted rules of the English language, and loves to point out the obvious with absurd overstatements and simple observations. He does earn a pass, though, because he played as an offensive lineman in the NFL for 13 years and probably took a staggering number of blows to the head. It would explain his vacant expression.
Tim McCarver: I honestly don't even know where to begin with this one. McCarver is, in a word, horrendous. He is the master of stating the obvious, pointing out such zingers as, "By guessing right you might have guessed wrong," and after a 2004 David Ortiz home run, "Mt. Everest erupts again!" You don't have to be a geologist to know that Mt. Everest has never been, nor ever will be, an active volcano. This stupidity goes without even mentioning his overbearing self-righteousness and his shameless love of all things Jeter, which are equally confounding and irritating. His rivalry with Deion Sanders, rehashed thousands of times on YouTube, is absolutely worth the look. YOU'RE A REAL MAN DEION!
Troy Aikman: In spite of his accomplishments as a player, Troy lacks in the department of creativity. He loves to describe the action he sees on the replay as if he were the play-by-play guy, which would be nice if we didn't actually have a play-by-play guy to do that job already. He also does a wonderful job agreeing with his frequent partner, the insufferable Joe Buck, whose smarmy attitude I have already decried in this space before. Aikman is the master of taking what Buck says, replacing three different words with synonyms, and then restating it for those of us watching on TV who may not have caught it the first time. Like Dan Dierdorf, I will give him the benefit of the doubt since he had about 37 concussions throughout his career and probably isn't 100 percent sure where he is most of the time.
I don't want you to think that I am completely negative, in spite of my incessant complaining. There are many people on TV that I love, and next time I will spout about the glory that is Gus Johnson, and many others. Stay tuned.