Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why I hate ESPN's NFL crew

Way back in my first post, I promised I would hold announcers accountable if they got on officials' cases without any cause or knowledge. I even mentioned Joe Theismann by name, because he's probably the worst offender there is.

Today the worst offender made his worst offense.

When Mike Carey called the personal foul on the Redskins' Sean Taylor and they showed the replay, I'll admit it looked at first like he got the wrong guy. I said "Oh, that's a shame." But then I had something Joe Theismann will never have.

I had a thought.

Didn't Mike Carey say something after calling the foul--something that might explain the foul?

I rewound the TiVo.

Here's what I heard:

"After the ball was dead: Unsportsmanlike conduct, defense number 21. 15 yards and an automatic first down. Spitting in the face of an opponent. Number 21 is ejected."

I don't see how this could be any more clear.

But ESPN's NFL people, God love 'em, found a way to make themselves look like complete idiots--even worse than they do every week.

Because Mike Patrick started talking as Mike Carey was saying the word "spitting," they didn't hear a word of it.

So, for six minutes, we got massive ref-bashing--when the crew didn't even listen to the explanation!

And, because Mike Patrick opened his big trap too early, nobody in the television audience got to hear the explanation, unless they rewound their TiVos and concentrated through Carey's voice!

This wasn't a misunderstanding of a rule or a criticism of a judgement call, both of which I can live with more than this. This was a 6-minute harangue of Carey when the crew had the information they needed at their disposal, if they'd only bothered listening. They just were more interested in hearing themselves talk then in getting it right for once.

Nobody in the truck thought to listen to Carey.

Nobody on the crew thought to rewind the tape and see what he said.

They just assumed they knew better.

Here are some highlights from Larry, Curly, and Moe in the booth:

Maguire: "Watch this. Now watch this." (We could put this in anytime for Maguire, of course.)

Theismann: "Whoa! How do you do this? This is something that should be reviewed upstairs." (You idiot. A, it's not reviewable. B, if it were, in the third quarter, it wouldn't be upstairs doing it.) "You cannot give a 15-yard penalty do a player who did nothing." (No, you can't, Joe, and he didn't. Just like Mike Carey said about 30 seconds ago.)

Patrick: "That's terrible."

Theismann: "I'm very curious to see what the officials in the booth are going to do. It's an extremely bad call and an unbelieveable mistake."

Patrick: "It's not reviewable." (Thanks, Mike, for the first actual fact of this stretch. Of course, your decision to talk over Carey precipitated all of this, so you reap what you sow.)

Theismann: "In a game of this magnitude, the officials should not be allowed to make this kind of a mistake." (Nor should the broadcasters, you nitwit.)

Patrick: "Oh, that's awful."

Theismann: "And you know if it was Sean Taylor who hit Michael Pittman and that happened, I'd say the same thing." (Joe! It's not your bias that's ever bothered me! It's your complete lack of knowledge of the rules of football. But today, it's even worse than that--because the referee told you what happened, but you didn't listen. And on top of that, nobody on your crew, in the truck, or even in Bristol bothered to clue any of you in.) "That is an absolute terrible, terrible call. That means that nobody saw anything! They just threw a flag!" (HOLY LORD GOD! Theismann has just accused an officiating crew of complete incompetence--for making a call when they didn't see anything. And yet, it is THEISMANN who is making this call without knowing anything! Absolutely amazing!)

Patrick: "This is a shocking call." (Yup, Mike, it is. Your call of this game is shocking.)

Maguire: "Now watch what [Taylor] does here." (Yet another scintillating bit of analysis by Maguire.) "He's jawing!"

Theismann: "All he's doing is jawing. That's all. He's talking. Then Carey starts to step in. Michael Pittman hits Sean Taylor, and they charge the penalty to Sean Taylor."

Patrick: "I have all the respect in the world for this officiating crew, but they missed that one." (Mike! If you had respect for them, why didn't you listen to Carey? He told you what happened.) "Hopefully, that call will not have anything to do with the outcome of this game."

Theismann: "Now unfortunately, the other part of that is that the coaches are mad at Sean Taylor. They get mad at him for creating and giving the Bucs this opportunity, and he doesn't deserve it."

Patrick: "And he didn't do it."

Maguire: "Well, look at the players on the sideline. They're not even talking to him. Maybe the referee heard him say something, but the swing was by Pittman."

--At this point, something interesting happens. Paul Maguire starts to become the closest thing in the room to the voice of reason. A thought is forming in his head at glacial speed...but since he's actually having a thought, he's the MENSA member of the crew. That's rather like having Hugh Hefner the president of your chastity club, but I digress. He's noticing that the Washington players and coaches aren't mad. Nobody in the joint is yelling at the officials except the stooges in the booth. Not even Taylor is hot! So he's starting to think that maybe there's an explanation to this.

Then, ESPN goes to a commercial.

Now surely, one would think...SURELY the fine folks at ESPN would take this opportunity to clue in its crew.


After the break, Sean Taylor is being escorted to the locker room. Why? Because he has been ejected. How do I know this? I heard Mike Carey say it (and, more importantly, say why). We pick up with our stooge crew:

Maguire: "Monte Kiffin was out in the middle of the field. I don't know, was he thrown out of the game? They didn't say anything." (See Mike Carey's words above, Paul. He did. It's just the three of you are such blowhards that you didn't listen, and your crew didn't care to inform you of what was said.)

Patrick: "Sean Taylor is leaving the field, going to the locker room. He has certainly had his problems, but if he's being punished for this, they're wrong."

Yup. Nobody got to them even during the break!

Patrick: "He was ejected from the ballgame, we are told." (Just now? HE TOLD YOU WHEN HE MADE THE CALL!) "And now it's taking on ridiculous proportions." (Truer words were never spoken, Mike. You make yourself look stupider and stupider with each word.)

Maguire: "Joe, what happened was, the word we got, is that he spit in Pittman's face."

--Paul Maguire! The voice of reason! And too late! Some stats:

Time Mike Carey made his public announcement: 6:36:40 EST.
Time the ESPN crew figured out the spitting and the ejection: 6:42:00 EST.

In between they had time to say all of the above.

Maguire: "If you spit in my face, I don't care how big you are, I'm going to smack you."

Patrick: "If he did that, and the referee saw it, then he deserves the penalty and he deserves to be ejected."

Theismann: "Then the official is correct."

Now, I'll wait for the apology for the allegations of Carey's incompetence and the admissions that the last 6 minutes of this broadcast were completely wrong and a pathetic farce:


I nominate this for the worst example of sportscasting in history. Anyone wish to second?


At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Mike Patrick in most cases, especially when he does college basketball, but you're on the ball here- they need to listen to the call. I didn't have the benefit of TiVo as I watched, and all I heard in the latter part of Carey's explanation was "ejected." As far Theissman and Macguire... ugh. I was a little disappointed I couldn't see the spit on my HD picture, lol!

At 8:57 AM, Blogger TheBentKangaroo said...

I was arguing with a buddy of mine on how insulting Theismann was even before the audience (who didn't hear Carey's voice) learned what the ejection was for.

Normal, respectful human beings don't rush judgment that quickly. Normal, thoughtful human beings would say something like, "Boy, Taylor must have done something we couldn't see on the camera, because Carey was looking right at Pittman when he threw the flag. Let's wait and try to get an explanation on this one."

But, of course, as you pointed out, regular announcers would have heard the explanation in the first place.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Shannin said...

Well, you are preaching to the choir, as you know. I'd rather watch with the sound off than listen to these bozos.


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