It's indisputable that America loves its football.
The boffo television ratings, the exploding rights fees for broadcasts, the jam packed stadiums every Saturday and Sunday, we just can't get enough. Our appetite for football is insatiable.
On the first Monday of every NFL season, the league finds it in their heart to give us something we don't get any other Monday -- two NFL games. Given the sport's popularity, I've always wondered why ESPN and the league don't do this at least a couple more times during the regular season. The demand has to be there, right?
So I put it to my listening audience on Tuesday afternoon: "Should the NFL go with weekly, or at least semi-regular, Monday night doubleheaders?" The answer I got back spoke volumes on one particular topic, and it wasn't football.
The nearly universal answer was "Not if we have to endure three hours of Chris Berman on play-by-play."
So offensive to the senses are the gravely, tone deaf play by play chops (or lack thereof) of the longtime ESPN mainstay (some would say ESPN overstay) that he actually smothered America's love for football.
It was the second game Monday night, the one between the Texans and the Chargers, which featured Berman's play by play description, the verbal equivalent of battery acid in the face. While the best play by play guys help conduct the story of the game and set up their color analyst to showcase his knowledge and enlighten the viewer, Berman's commentary is just a sea of metaphorical vomit, a verbal diarrhea explosion of outdated rock and roll references, tired middle names, and hyperbolic distance references employing surrounding suburb names (Randy Bullock has leg strength that can reach Escondido, Trent!).
The whole experience is a ruthless siege upon everyone's auditory sense, to the extent that by the time the second half of the game rolls around, your ears are bleeding so badly, you need to tie a tourniquet around your neck to stop the damage, and bonus, perhaps you might kill yourself, sparing you the throbbing pain of another quarter of "HE.... COULD ....GO ....ALL ....THE ....WAY ...."
Why ESPN continues to trot him out there for events like this, baseball play by play, and the least explicable of all, golf tournaments, is beyond me. Berman's commentary is so woefully out of touch with anything resembling the twenty first century that he is either the least self-aware personality in all of sports media, or the greatest troll on sports television.
It's one or the other with no in between.
I found out Monday night where most of you stand on this topic.
It started with a text from my buddy Andrew, which I've attached to a tweet that I subsequently sent to all of you that follow me on Twitter as the game was going on:
Just got this text from my buddy Andrew. How bad is it? Tweets encouraged.. pic.twitter.com/CIVb4GlPq5
— Sean Pendergast (@SeanCablinasian) September 10, 2013
What followed was a Twitter wave of hate and frustration that should be cut, pasted, and turned into a PDF file that can be printed a thousand times and wallpapered all over the office of every decision maker at ESPN. This is just my small corner of the social media universe, but it echoes the opinion of every sane human being I've interacted with over the last few years, and it is this:
Chris Berman is hated.
And it's not just a latent, simmering hate like you would have for static cling or Ashton Kutcher. This is an acute loathing, like some Kathie Lee Gifford type shit.
So in an effort to try to make the world a better place, here are the tweets encapsulating the opinion of my constituency of the internet, my 0.0000001% of the web universe. The Pendergast Precinct has spoken, and it's not good for Mr. Berman. The tweets tended to fall into seven different buckets, which we will call the Seven Stages Of Hating Chris Berman on Twitter:
FAINT PRAISE It starts innocently enough, where Berman's football play by play prowess is merely considered "just kind of shitty" because he is so unbearable, by comparison, in his other capacities:
@SeanCablinasian he's actually been much, much worse in other capacities. he's been fairly sedate so far.
— Sloan Kettering (@jjk2006) September 10, 2013
BIZARRO FAINT PRAISE Of course, it works both ways -- his football play by play can be so shitty that it makes some of his other work look less shitty:
@SeanCablinasian makes the HR Derby look good.
— John Broussard (@jkbroussard) September 10, 2013
LACKING SELF-AWARENESS Then comes the realization that Berman isn't so much describing the action of the football game in front of him as he is using the people and geography associated with the game as the launch point for his barrage of lame quips and puns:
@SeanCablinasian It's like there isn't even a game going on.
— Dbot1800 (@Dbot1800) September 10, 2013
@SeanCablinasian It's the least insightful commentary I've ever heard. Dilfer not helping much, either.
— David Falcon (@houston_dave) September 10, 2013
BARELY REALIZES HE IS ON TV I'm assuming that Chris Berman is well schooled in the x's and o's of doing play by play on television, since at one time he was a really good broadcaster, however, it appears that whatever fundamentals he once employed, have been forgotten, like watching an old timers softball game where half of the baseball legends involved now throw with the technique of a third grade girl:
@SeanCablinasian its like hes giving play by play of the internet gamecast
— Clint.Shane. (@clintshane) September 10, 2013
@SeanCablinasian Keeps saying down and distance before each play like its a radio broadcast. He's just not a pro.
— Warren Ables (@WarrenAbles) September 10, 2013
@SeanCablinasian He's been pretty lethargic so far. You can barely hear the crowd. It's like he's calling the game from the studio.
— NateInEdmonton (@NateInVegas) September 10, 2013
NAME BUTCHER Yeah, he had a few of these....
@SeanCablinasian Bermann: "quick dump-off to Owen Daniel (sic)... got a head of steam and was not gonna be denied until he was brought down"
— Sean Filipow (@boilerroombrews) September 10, 2013
@SeanCablinasian berman just called mike mccoy "Michael Bush."
— Steve (@SteveinLC) September 10, 2013
— Dbot1800 (@Dbot1800) September 10, 2013
COMPARISONS TO OTHER MEDIA PERSONALITIES When you start getting dropped into tweets with Milo Hamilton, Clyde Drexler, and the subdued video game voice of the Sega version of Pat Summerall, well.....
@SeanCablinasian Pat Summerall was more energized in Madden 95 on Sega
— Hill (@Hill713) September 10, 2013
— Robin Hood (@Robinhood34hood) September 10, 2013
— Stephen Luck (@luckydogjr) September 10, 2013
— The Dream Shake (@DreamShakeSBN) September 10, 2013
COMPARISONS TO GILBERT And at the bottom of the hatred food chain, the final swirl around the drain is a comparison to Gilbert, a semi-famous listener to my and John Granato's radio show who calls in every day and is virtually impossible to understand:
@SeanCablinasian It's not great... Gilbert would be a massive improvement.
— Mike Wilson (@mwilly33) September 10, 2013
Point of reference, here is Gilbert interviewing Roger Clemens back in 2005:
I tend to agree with the tweeter -- Gilbert would be a massive improvement over Berman!
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In closing, and stepping outside of my own Twitter timeline, I think we can all agree that the entrepreneurial opportunity that Pimp Bill Clinton (who, with that name, has a 65 percent chance of being the actual Bill Clinton) espouses here has some potential:
The dude who figures out how to mute just Chris Berman during a football broadcast is going to be a fucking gazillionaire.
— Pimp B. Clinton (@PimpBillClinton) September 10, 2013
Or just stop putting Berman on football broadcasts, same result.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.