There’s no substitute for authenticity. You, my friend, could study football for six decades, you could know every depth chart and every coaching tree, you could look at any formation and predict 15 ways to score with it and 20 ways to stop it … and you’d still lose an announcing gig to a guy who spent two days in an NFL training camp in 2014.
NFL fans like to hear the voices of those who’ve been there in the trenches, probably because what happens out there is so foreign to the rest of us. And when those voices are sharp, funny and on-point, well … they can write their own paycheck, which is basically what Tony Romo did when he won himself a fat new $17-million-a-year deal.
Maybe the strangest aspect of Romo’s deal is the fact that it’s drawn no fan blowback. In the booth, Romo engenders a kind of near-universal fan love that he never heard outside of Dallas during his playing days. Everybody loves Tony!
You know where this is headed. CBS is committed to Romo for the next millennium, but ESPN, NBC, et. al., are going to be on the hunt for The Next Romo.
The closest thing the NFL has to Captain America, JJ Watt is going to be in your life for the rest of your life. A plus-sized Peyton Manning, he’s got the corn-fed charm that’ll open every door to every broadcasting booth after he’s done.
No one in the current NFL calls out players, by name and by brutally specific weakness, quite like Jalen Ramsey. You want honesty? He’ll give it to you, like it or not … just be prepared for him to rip your beloved team along with all the rest.
He’s got the best eyes in the game, and can break down complex defenses as easily as parents can name their kids. Drew Brees is also one of the most charitable forces in the game. Is he too nice of a guy for a broadcast booth?
Maybe the smartest guy in the NFL. He’s seen it all. He’s done it all. He’s won it all. If Richard Sherman makes a pronouncement, he’ll back it up with both bluster AND evidence. He’d be amazing in a booth, but he’d also tick people off at how easily he’d diagnose their team’s flaws.
This depends entirely on which Tom Brady we get in the broadcast booth. If we get the mechanical, quote-of-the-week Brady who usually shows up to news conferences, hard pass. But if he’s willing to open up and tell a few stories — particularly about his old coach — this could be a winning fit.
Bear with me here. I see Cam Newton as football’s equivalent to the NBA’s Bill Walton. He’s going to take you on a journey, and you never quite know where you’re headed or how you’re going to get there, but man, it’ll be a heck of a trip.
Newton’s onetime tight end already has one cleat in the booth. Greg Olsen is polished, knowledgeable, efficient and effective; he’s going to be on your TV screen forever.
You don’t often see a Heisman Trophy winner drop into the role of hype man, but Mark Ingram did that this year for quarterback Lamar Jackson:
Imagine him bringing that kind of fire to a Monday Night Football intro. BEARS! DOLPHINS! BIG TRUSS!
As long as there’s a tapped keg running in the broadcast booth, we’d get moments like these from Gronk 2.0.
Protect Travis Kelce at all costs 😂 pic.twitter.com/IC4ousdAH0— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 19, 2020
Sure, all that bellowing could get old fast, but put Travis Kelce on Thursday night games and add a jolt of electricity to your annual Titans-Jags slog.
You know he went to Harvard. You know he’ll have tales to tell about pretty much every franchise in the league. And if ol’ Fitzmagic shows up to work like this, so much the better:
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s postgame look: pic.twitter.com/4qkRyu7l7X— Greg Auman (@gregauman) September 16, 2018
So, who do you think is the next Romo? We’ve got our four top picks below. Feel free to throw yours in the comments.
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