Wednesday, June 3, 2009
NBC's New TV Analysts are Polar Opposites
In this day and age, it seems like any retiring professional athlete or coach can get a shot in the broadcast booth if they want it. As a matter of fact, I think ESPN has more former athletes as analysts than they know what to do with. I mean, of course they have the staples: Mark Schlereth, Tim Legler, Barry Melrose, John Kruk, etc. But there are so many other analysts that just seem to pop up in random episodes of Baseball Tonight or NFL Live or ESPN First Take. Maybe that is what an aspiring young broadcaster like myself should have done. Maybe I should've pushed much harder to try to reach the pro level in a sport because that seems like a surefire way to get into broadcasting.
All kidding aside...we've got these TV or radio analysts that used to play or coach professionally, some of them are good, some of them are atrocious. Part of me likes the way the networks hire these guys. Hiring so often keeps the insight as fresh as it could be. If you're bringing in a guy who just finished playing, he is going to be about as insightful as could be about the current state of the sport. Hiring so many covers all the bases. One guy may have great commentary on one area and the other guy may have an opinion that makes a different point. Going analyst-by-committee seems to work a lot of the time, but it does kind of hurt the continuity of the broadcasts. That is why, on the other side, its kind of nice when programs like CBS NFL Sunday keeps the same panel the whole year. You know what you're going to get.
But enough about the generic stuff...let's discuss NBC's new broadcast duo set to join the NFL Sunday night studio crew. It was announced yesterday that the angelic Tony Dungy and the ferocious Rodney Harrison were hired by NBC as NFL analysts. Before I get to how funny this is, I must say that both men are, from what I know about them, very good choices for this type of position. Dungy has a great football mind and has a gentle way of communicating that would serve as a good voice for TV. Harrison played the game as hard as it could be played for 15 years instilling fear in all of his opponents. He'd be great to breakdown film.
However, I found it HILARIOUS that these two were hired at the same time, let alone talked about in the same breath. If you really want to break it down, Rodney Harrison is the AJ Pierzynski of football. He was voted as the leagues dirtiest/most hated player several times. Harrison was known for his crushing hits and constant trash talk. And then you look at Dungy, who is gentle, quiet, and composed. Hell, let's just say that if Harrison was an anvil or a wrecking ball, Dungy would be a feather. The other ironic side of NBC's recent move is the fact that Dungy and Harrison were centerpieces in the cold-blooded rivalry between the Colts and Patriots in recent years. Watching a lot of the games between the two teams and knowing fans from each side, I know that this rivalry was intense. As nice as Tony is, I'm sure he didn't like Rodney too much. And as hard as it is to dislike Tony, I'm sure Rodney still somehow did.
The two men are polar opposites, there is simply no other way to put it. But they do have one thing in common. They are winners. Both of them have Super Bowl rings and both of them participated in the sport with an incredible passion each and every day. And even though they are so different, I think that they will both serve as great analysts for the sport. Their sheer difference was probably attractive to NBC and for that hiring tactic, I applaud them. I think they'll each be able to give great insight on unique aspects of football. I'm sure excited to see how it'll shake down.
If you think about it, athletes, coaches, and GMs are in front of the camera so much during their careers. They get plenty of practice answering questions and making statements, so over the years I'm sure they become very articulate, lose the nervousness, and get a feel for exactly what people want to hear. That's what being a TV analyst is all about...so maybe former athletes and coaches are the best people to hire. If they are good at what they do, then they're going to have long careers on the field...and of course in front of the camera. Practice makes perfect.