sports media

Formula ranks the NFL broadcast teams from bad to not-so-bad

The best NFL broadcast team — or should I say the least worst, and yes, that will make sense in a moment — is Fox’s Dick Stockton and Ronde Barber, with NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth a close second.

That’s not a subjective analysis, either. It’s math.

As it turns out, broadcasting incompetence is statistically quantifiable to some degree, thanks to the efforts of Sports On Earth’s Aaron Gordon.


After struggling to find hard data, as he put it, that provided factual perspective on the pros and cons of various NFL announcers — it is the kind of thing Paul Zimmerman did years ago but no one has done nearly as thoroughly since — Gordon set out to do it himself.

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Here’s how Gordon explained the process:

“So I listened to 32 NFL games — two per crew — charting every foolish, false, annoying, ridiculous, and downright dumb thing each of them said,’’ Gordon wrote on “I did this not because I enjoy it [it was, indeed, awful] but to determine which NFL crew is the worst of the lot.”

Talk about taking one for the team. Gordon broke his study down into six categories: clichés, factual errors, nonsense, self-references, plays off, and off topic. Each announcer or analyst received a point for an infraction each time he did something that fit one of those categories.

While it may not be a perfect equation — “plays off,’’ in which a broadcaster says nothing, is often a good thing, and “nonsense” and “off topic” are somewhat redundant — the results are fascinating.


Some support conventional wisdom about the worst (and best) broadcast teams. Some certainly do not.

Among Gordon’s findings: The worst broadcast team by his measure was Chris Myers and Tim Ryan on Fox with 87 infractions. As a bottom-rung NFC tandem, they’re probably not heard that often around here.

But the analysts with the most violations will come as no surprise to Patriots fans: Dan Dierdorf, who had 61 infractions in two games. I doubt he had that many penalties in his entire NFL career.

Gordon specifically cites this anecdote as the essence of Dierdorf’s style: “After watching Tommy Kelly on the ground, holding his knee for several seconds, [Dierdorf says] ‘it’s some type of leg injury.’ ’’

Yep, that sounds like Dierdorf.


Some might be surprised that Stockton and Barber graded out so well (19 infractions). My lone beef with Gordon’s findings is the respectable grade CBS analyst Steve Tasker received (a total of 26 infractions with partner Bill Macatee).

During the Patriots-Browns game two weeks ago, Tasker was so frequently puzzled in his evaluation of what was happening on the field that I was beginning to long for the ’80s heyday of Beasley Reece, the single worst color analyst I’ve ever heard on a Patriots game.

Tasker was brutal during Browns-Patriots. Somehow, he beat the system when Gordon was watching.

One thumb’s up

I’m not going to go into full-fledged movie–review mode here, but I do want to share some lingering thoughts on “Band of Bearded Brothers,’’ the NESN-produced (in conjuction with Major League Baseball) film on the 2013 Red Sox.

As we learned during the aftermath of the Red Sox’ two previous World Series titles this decade, the NESN version of a championship film tends to be a little more in-depth and a little less formal than the official World Series video produced by MLB. It’s not at all redundant.

Here are a few takeaways from the 81-minute film:

 It’s narrated by Kevin Millar, and somewhat surprisingly, he’s a pleasant storyteller. His voice is understated by his usual standards, with nary a Cowboy Up or a Got HEEEEM (his catchphrase on his MLB Network Intentional Talk program) to be heard.

 I wouldn’t go so far as to call them gratuitous shots, but there is a bit of an overemphasis on pointing out all of the writers (and the generally acknowledged “Red Sox Fan Blogs,’’ as the film refers to them) who predicted the Red Sox would have another difficult season. The film should have moved on from 2012 as quickly as the players and fans did.

 Remember the mystery of what exactly David Ortiz said when he called together the team for a pep talk in the dugout during Game 4 of the World Series? Now we know. (It may have been revealed elsewhere, but this is the first time I heard it.) “We don’t get here every day,’’ Ortiz said. “Let’s relax and play the game the way we know how. We’re better than this right here. Let’s loosen up and play the game the way we do.” On a 1-10 scale of inspiration, with any Rich Kotite speech a 1 and Jim Valvano’s timeless “Don’t ever give up” speech a 10, Ortiz checks in at about a 5. But hey, it did the trick. The existence of this DVD is proof.

Third man in

WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan have has some recurring fun in hassling Kirk Minihane — who quickly became essential since becoming the third voice on the D&C program in February — about his contract status. Sometimes it’s tough to discern the serious from the facetious, but this much is known: Minihane is expected have a new deal soon, and given the recent surge in ratings and the support of Entercom’s new Boston management, any change on D&C at this point would be stunning . . . NESN has added Saturday’s men’s college basketball matchup between No. 22 UMass and Florida State to its broadcast schedule. The Minutemen, who have won their first 10 games, visit the 7-3 Seminoles at 2 p.m. . . . Celtics coach Brad Stevens will be a panelist at this year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which runs from February 28-March 1 at the Hynes Convention Center.

Chad Finn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.