The inexplicable whys of hating Brent Musburger

Brent at the Rose BowlI have this very dear friend.  He goes by the name Jackal.

Jackal and I were having a relatively meaningless conversation about sports (and probably girls) the other day when he mentioned something in passing that I found kind of odd.

Brent Musburger was smackdab in the middle of calling the Rose Bowl, the Granddaddy of them All.  His unmistakable voice boomed through the barroom speakers, as one would expect if one were listening to college football on the very first day of the calendar year.  That’s when Jackal turned to me and said “I hate Brent Musburger” and that he “couldn’t wait until he retired.”

That struck me as odd considering Brent Musburger has been calling sporting events almost as long as I’ve been alive.  For the longest time, I can recall and associate countless, huge sporting events I’ve listened over the years to voices like his, Al Michaels’, Keith Jackson’s, Verne Lundquist’s, Dick Stockton’s, Marv Albert’s, a list of veteran and venerable sports announcers whose iconic voices have become an indelible and unmistakable part of our sports landscape.

I wouldn’t outright say I “hate” any of these guys.  If anything, they’re to be revered, the whole lot of them.

Joe and Jack BuckSure, there are guys that get on my nerves like Joe Buck but that’s only because he found his way into a broadcasting booth because of the last name he carries.  Joe’s father Jack did St. Louis Cardinals play-by-play for nearly fifty years.  All I got from my dad was a receding hairline and an innate affinity for alcoholism.  But I can’t hate Joe Buck if that’s what he wanted to do with his life or for using his name to get it.

Buck’s former booth partner Tim McCarver also tends to be on the annoying side but in the grand scheme of things, we have worse things to complain about.  Besides, Musburger was probably calling games when McCarver was still playing pro ball.  (SportsChump fact-checkers prove that factually correct.  Musburger debuted on CBS’s NFL Today in 1973; McCarver played for the Phillies until 1980).

That’s a long damn time to be calling ballgames.

Musburger is now 76 years old.  And he’s still going strong.  Sure, he’ll blurt out something kooky and perverse, like how he fawned over AJ McCarron’s girlfriend during the Alabama-Notre Dame national championship game a few years ago.  So what if he’s a dirty old man.  It’s not like he’s going all Cosby on us.  Marv Albert wears women’s underwear.  We overlook these things when guys get into their eighties, a lifetime achievement hall pass for even making it that far.  If you walked down the street and saw an old guy sitting on a park bench feeding pigeons, you wouldn’t say you hate the guy, would you?  Of course not.  That’s just mean.

NFL TodayBrent Musburger has called more sporting events than you and I could ever care to put on our bucket list.  The guy was calling NFL games before Walter Payton was even in the league!

These guys are sports casting icons.  If a guy is still better at his job than anyone else, and he’s seventy-something, that probably means he’s doing something right and certainly better than the young bucks, no pun intended, trying to break into the industry.

So it’s about time we appreciate all the old guys in the sports booth.  They’re not going to be around for much longer.  They were one of a kind, really the first generation of men whose voices we learned to associate with the sports we grew up listening to.

I say enjoy them while they last.

29 thoughts on “The inexplicable whys of hating Brent Musburger

  1. Brent Musberger is still alive???? I remember him with Phyllis George and Jimmy The Greek on CBS when they covered NFC games. Damn, I’m old. The worse ever play by play guy was Joe Theissman. After him, I would have to go with Chris Collinsworth. Gruden kinda gets on my nerves, too.

  2. How about Michaels wondering aloud why Aaron Rodgers didn’t spike the ball on the last play of the game V. the Vikings? (Because it was 4th down).

  3. Hate is such a strong word. I don’t hate Brent Musburger, but I hate the way he calls college football games. Where University of Michigan is concerned he’s so obviously biased against them it’s maddening.

    You could hear the excitement in his voice whenever Notre Dame made a good play, and the disappointment when they didn’t. When Michigan made a good play he usually fell silent and then proceeded to downplay it. When they made a poor play he was quick to call them out.

    An Penn State running back “fought and dragged three Wolverine tacklers” to pick up three yards; while Penn State “stopped the U of M back for a gain of only three yards.” I got sick of his “Joe Pa” reverence.

    You expect bias from local broadcasters. Ever hear Bob Ufer call a Michigan game back in the day, with his references to “Coach Bo General George Patton Schembechler” and “God bless his Maize and Blue heart”? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nam4sX1i7fo) Muffburger, I mean Musburger was on national television, he’s supposed to be unbiased; he did little to cover up which team for whom he was rooting, and it was ALWAYS against Michigan no matter who they played.

  4. Brent Mushburger (sorry) has been more full of himself than any broadcaster I remember. I’ve always sensed he felt he was the event and not the game he was reporting. He deriseively called Kirk Herbstreit
    “Herbie.” He can’t carry Herbstreit’s microphone. He is often wrong factually on calls but never apologizes. What he has on network brass to have lasted this long I’ll never know. A decade or two ago he started wearing goofy hats to give himself an identity. The fact that he has lasted long doesn’t necessarily mean he has been good at what he does, kind of like members of Congress. He stinks, in a nutshell. I turn him off as soon as his voice is heard on the television.

  5. I miss Keith Jackson. He WAS college football to me. And before him…Chris Schenkel set the standard high in that same sport. The Joe Buck hatred across the planet has always fascinated me. He is loathed everywhere I turn. I don’t have a problem with him but man, does he get killed just about everywhere. Another classic but not-as-known announcer from the way past…Ray Scott. Primarily worked Packers’ games…but was a top CBS NFL guy also.

  6. I’m with your friend! Time to put Musberger out to pasture! I’ve found him extremely annoying to listen to over the years. Unfortunately, they paired him with one of my favorites, Jessie Palmer, so I have no choice to listen, otherwise, I would turn down the volume!
    Dan

  7. Stevie U…

    Here’s the thing.

    I don’t think we give these guys enough credit.

    Sure they sit in a booth and talk about sports and most of the people I know think it’s a cush job and would kill to have it.

    But it ain’t easy. There’s plenty of research that goes into those gigs. Fuck, Mel Kiper is like Rainman when it comes to knowing these college kids that come out every year.

    To be honest, maybe I’m just not sweating the small stuff in my old age. Sure, I’ll be critical of an announcer every now and again. But I’m generally forgiving if they make a mistake. And if I don’t like ’em, I’ll just pump down the volume.

    Pump down the volume, pump down the volume, pump down the volume, DANCE, DANCE!

  8. He he… I did notice that Michael.

    Reminds me of Kirk Cousins taking that knee (I think it was Kirk Cousins) right before the half of that game a few weeks back.

    Can’t do that, bro. That doesn’t stop the clock.

    Again, we all make mistakes. We just don’t do it with a million people watching.

  9. Conrad…

    I guess I wasn’t paying that close attention.

    I can tell you that I know a fair amount of Buckeye fans and when the Gators were making their run, it drove them bonkers that Kirk Herbstreit had become such a Gator homer.

    We’re human. We have biases. And you and I both know that the days of unbiased reporting are long gone.

  10. I’ll be honest, Coach.

    When I wrote this, I thought I’d get a lot more love for Brent and his peers.

    Looks to me like we can’t stand any of ’em.

    Oh mute button, how we adore thee.

  11. Burnsy…

    The local guys are in a class by themselves.

    First of all, they know their program better than any national broadcaster.

    And I said, an emotional call is always a memorable one.

    Poor Brent. I hope he’s not reading this.

  12. Dan the Man?

    Like a Gator announcer?

    We’re gonna have you turn in your Bulldog/Irish fanhood just yet.

    By the way, another fantastic bowl pool run, sir.

    Nice work as always.

    Now if I could just finish in the money. I’m close.

  13. Jimmy the Greek never got as much love as he deserved for slugging that smarm-bag in the face. A lot of people dint realize that the drunken hoodlum from Ohio throws a better punch because he was bred that way…

  14. I just tune them all out as white noise and watch / make my own commentary in my head. I won’t pick on any of them too much, they are all flawed in some way just like me. I will say I enjoy the ones who give me some X’s & O’s reasons why a play worked or not during the game.

  15. I could never understand the hate for broadcasters. I remember my Dad muting a college game on TV and turning on the radio broadcast instead. My only broadcaster complaints are the guys who labor to shoehorn emotional meaning into every play, e.g., ‘I can only imagine what he must be feeling making a game-winning catch on such a big stage after such an emotional week with his daughter’s heart surgery and his Dad’s stroke and the loss of his pet.’ Tell me about the game. Don’t tell me how to feel.

  16. Moose….

    Hoge is pretty good at that. So is Jaworski at times.

    There’s a show that comes on ESPN super early on Sunday morning where they break shit down to the point where the common fan probably can’t understand it.

    Remember that show Mystery Science Theater 3000? Some friends of mine and I always wanted to do that with football, basketball or baseball games. Just sit in the audience, perhaps with a former player, and comment on the game in comedic fashion.

    I know that would be a hit.

  17. Paul…

    Thanks for chiming in. And great site by the way. I’m always down for exchanging blog rolls if you’re so inclined.

    That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about Charles Barkley on the set of Inside the NBA.

    The network could be showing some dog of a game and he’ll basically tell you before the game there’s no need to watch it.

    How’s that for a sales pitch?

  18. MST 3K is coming back. They raised money on crowdfunding and expect to produce a mini/season in the near future. Details as they become available. Wife and I loved that show. Joel, Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, Gypsy, Cambot, Dr. Forester and TV’s Frank! (I wonder how many reading this have any idea what the hell I’m talking about…)

  19. I was spoiled growing up listening to Chick Hearn and Vin Scully.
    All others pale in comparison IMO.

    Brent doesn’t bug me nearly as much as Bob Costas…Don’t know why but that dude gets on my nerves. Not hate…He just comes off as a smarmy, pompous dickhead.

  20. I wish they’d pair Palmer and Pollock-Gator and Dawg! They are both great young talent. Good luck at third place!

  21. Bleed….

    Hearn and Scully are two of the best ever. That ain’t a bad way to listen to a ball game.

    And I’m with you on Costas. I used to really enjoy the guy but he has gotten a little too big for his britches…. which is ironic considering he’s about 5’2″.

  22. Thanks, Dan.

    I think I’m keeping my Bama pick although I suspect Partykiller may switch his game to Clemson, if he hasn’t already, just to have a shot.

  23. What is up with David Pollock’s hair? I rarely wish or like to comment on appearance but Pete Rose’s style went out of style decades ago. Good analysts should have good stylists.

  24. Never forget what a monumental POS Musberger is deep down. In 1968 US gold and bronze medalists Tonnie Smith and John Carlos were largely ostracized by the US sporting establishment for simply drawing attention to racial inequality. Carlos were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats. Adding as much salt in their wounds as he could, Brent Musburger, a writer for the Chicago American at the time, described Smith and Carlos as “a couple of black-skinned storm troopers” who were “ignoble,” “juvenile,” and “unimaginative.” Never forget that he chose those words. May his grandchildren’s children recoil in horror reading those words well into the future. He deserves SO much shame for choosing to write that. It will never, ever be forgotten and that in itself is almost justice enough.

  25. Interesting take, Fred, and I did not know that.

    Although it’s safe to be said that Carlos and Smith were not among the most popular athletes at the time for taking a stand as they did.

    By no means am I excusing Musburger’s words although I wonder how he’d respond to those comments if we were asked about them now.

    After all, clearly so much has change since the late 1960s…. Not.

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