“You Are Looking Live…”
Well, finally a weekend without football, unless you count the Pro Bowl (which only remotely resembles football) and some college all-star games. This will be nothing, however, like the withdrawal you will go through on the weekend following next week’s Super Bowl. This weekend, we urge you football junkies to re-acquaint yourself with your family and get away from the hi-def TV. My son and I will be heading to DC for the Washington Area Auto Show. We went for the first time last year and had a great father-son day looking at cars I cannot afford, and had a great time in our Nation’s Capital.
Now, on to today’s topic…
2016 was a year in which we saw the retirement of two great play-by-play announcers: Vin Scully hung up the mic after a long career with the Dodgers and on the national stage. And Vern Lundquist, one of the great voices of the Masters golf tournament, called his last SEC football game. The airwaves will not be the same…
And, this week, we learned of the impending retirement of Brent Musburger, who after nearly 50 years of sports broadcasting, will call his final game next week, stepping aside after the Kentucky-Georgia basketball game.
When you heard Musburger’s famous “You are looking live…” you knew a big game was probably happening. He was also part of a ground-breaking venture back in the day. Nowadays, there are umpteen football pre-game shows, most with umpteen ex-players, celebrities, and prognosticators on the set. But in the 70’s, the NFL pre-game show was a half-hour of meat-and-potatoes no-nonsense analysis usually delivered in a vanilla style by former NFL greats.
That is , until CBS unveiled “The NFL Today”, which broke the mold and set the stage for today’s “yuck it up” pre-game shows. The NFL Today featured the diverse crew of Musburger, Irv Cross, Phyllis George, and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. It was really the first pre-game show of it’s kind and the four had a great on-screen chemistry. The show did deliver hard football news and analysis, but also human interest pieces, and was a must-see on Sundays.
My enduring memory of Musburger will be of the 1988 (’87 season) NFC Championship Game between the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings. Earlier in the week, Jimmy “The Greek” held forth at Duke Zeibert’s restaurant in DC, and delivered an alcohol-fueled, racially charged soliloquy about the “black athlete.” After Snyder refused to resign, he was removed from the game and later altogether by CBS. Musberger had to deliver a network statement about the absence of his friend “The Greek” during the NFL Today. He got through what must have been a tough moment with absolute professionalism.
In recent years, Musburger lost a bit off his fastball, as they say, and had a few embarrassing moments (like the verbal ogling of Alabama QB AJ McCarron’s girlfriend on national TV), and I aIways thought Brent tried to make himself bigger than the event he was covering. But there’s no denying that Brent Musburger has had an amazing 50-year career behind the mic and in front of the camera.
Thanks Brent, for bringing us some great moments in sports over the years!
That’s it from the Booth! Until next week…GO HORNETS!