Chris Russo, ranting on his SiriusXM show on Monday, believed that Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were over the top in their gushing over Aaron Rodgers, who returned in the second half to lead the Packers to a comeback win over the Bears after he’d been carted off.
“You would’ve thought that he was Audie Murphy,” Russo said. (I’ll admit: I had to look that one up.) He said the over-the-top-ness of it “made me sick.” He also didn’t think Michaels’ Willis Reed comparison was apt because Reed was way more hurt and only played a couple minutes in the championship game.
“Collinsworth doesn’t have an edge to him, and that is probably where Collinsworth in my eyes falters as a great broadcaster,” Russo said. “There’s no edge to Collinsworth. Everything is phenomenal. He’s so Pollyanna.”
Russo gave Collinsworth credit for ripping Pete Carroll for not running Marshawn Lynch at the goal line, but then doubled down saying that Collinsworth doesn’t have an edge and that “everything is the greatest thing in the world.”
This isn’t to say Russo is wrong about Collinsworth being much more positive than negative, but what national game broadcasters have a big edge nowadays? Jeff Van Gundy comes to mind. Reggie Miller has an edge, but he’s also annoying. Bob Costas and Curt Schilling have an edge but the former appears to be on his way out at NBC and the latter can’t get relevant work anymore because he can’t refrain from posting grotesque memes.
Now, I would agree with Russo that the national audience would probably prefer announcers to be brutally honest about what they see, but the unfortunate reality is that is more inconvenient than what it’s worth. This is an extreme example, stemming not from a game broadcast but from a tweet, but look at what happened with Mark Jones and the email from ESPN executive Nick Dawson to Washington AD Jen Cohen calling Jones “childish” and stressing ESPN’s desire to be a good partner.
The days of Howard Cosell are long gone, and it’s tough to see many big national game broadcasters going forward having the edge that Russo covets.