Ever find yourself wondering how NFL broadcasters got their jobs? Me too. When listening to a particularly bad commentator — looking at you, Joe Buck — I routinely spend more time disagreeing with the broadcaster, and wondering why I don’t have his job, than I spend appreciating the game.
How it happened I’m not sure, but I watched this years first Sunday Night Football affair pegging the Jets against the Cowboys on mute, and loved every second of it.
As an avid football fan who often fantasizes about coaching in the future, I will unapologetically say that this was a life-altering experience.
I was amazed at how much I had been missing. Without the volume, I was forced to actively watch the game, rather than taking the broadcasters word for what was happening.
Instead of receiving cliché observations from washed-up football players and elementary viewpoints from underqualified commentators, I gathered my own opinions and observations. I quickly learned that the opinions and observations of viewers are often far more insightful than that of your average commentator.
While actively watching without an announcer stating for the fourth time that defense wins championships, I noticed subtle aspects of the game that are often overlooked.
From how the motions in the backfield affect the defense’s positioning, to the nuances of the receiver position and passing game and, what I felt was most interesting, player reactions and body language.
I felt I gained a superior understanding of the game of football when forced to allot my full attention to it. This is how the game that stole Sundays from the Catholic Church should be watched.
I lost a little respect for Plaxico Burress in viewing this game. Athletically, he’s nothing short of a freak. At 6 feet 5 inches and more than 230 pounds — and still fast at 34 years old — any casual, blind-in-one-eye, beer-hazy fan can see he’s exceptionally talented.
Yes, Plaxico, we’d notice even without the arrogant scowls and “look what I just did” gestures. Act like you’ve been there before.
Another player that disappointed me was Tony Romo. I’d always heard he lacked leadership qualities but never put much stock into it.
After all, the media blows everything out of proportion, especially when dealing with teams like the Cowboys.
But why is he smiling so brightly when his team is routinely missing scoring opportunities, when the Jets are coming back from a 14-point deficit and he’s throwing key interceptions like Fogel’s wife writes controversial letters?
Don’t get me wrong, Lil’ Romeo is an excellent quarterback on paper, boasting a career passer rating of 95.6.
The stats he accumulates on my fantasy team inevitably end with me praising the Lord Baby Jesus. But at the same time, this is a guy who has a well-deserved rep for coming up small when the moment is big.
Who recalls that playoff game versus Seattle when he botched the PAT hold? Or last year when he led a talented Cowboys team to a 1-5 record before missing the remainder of the season with injury?
If that isn’t enough, explain why the pedestrian Jon Kitna led the same team to a 5-5 record in Romo’s absence.
While I focused in on the images on my TV screen, Romo’s body language truly lit a fire under me.
I couldn’t imagine being his teammate and seeing that doofy, “shucks guys, we’ll get ‘em next time” grin after he fumbles the ball away at the two-yard line.
Or when he throws a ball directly to Jet’s cornerback Darelle Revis with 49 seconds left and the score tied. Might I suggest that a demeanor change is in order?
The honeymoon is over, he’s entering his sixth season as the Cowboys’ starter and has exactly one playoff win to show for it.
I’m not saying he needs to slam his helmet violently to the turf or dabble in any Dennis Rodman shit, but, as the supposed leader of his team, he might consider tossing a casual headshake or momentary glimpse of disapproval into his facial-expression repertoire.
Meanwhile, as I’m making these observations, I wonder what subject the broadcast team was killing time with before they receive their 30th commercial break.
Good old Troy Aikman and company were quite possibly rambling about the new NFL replay policy that I’ve already heard too much about.
Or maybe they were enlightening me to the fact that the season premiere of “The Office” is next week — likely the most informative part of their night.
What I do know is that I’d like to invite you all to watch a muted football game with me, and wonder what they were saying for yourself.