The importance of the relationship between a play-by-play announcer and a colour analyst can’t be understated. Analysts allow play-by-play guys to focus on sculpting the game story and setting out the key points throughout a contest, while injecting the ‘color’ of a game. However it can go horribly wrong when analysts decide to become bigger than the game, and overtake not only the play-by-play guy, but the crowd and the natural audio in a huge moment.
Last weekend provided one of the all-time great moments from the NFL post season with the Minnesota Vikings scoring a game-clinching touchdown on the final roll of the dice in the fourth quarter. It was a great moment with several dozen radio and television calls coming from it. Not least of all Paul Allen’s call of the game winning touchdown where he was completely over-run by his analyst.
here's Paul Allen's (@PAOnTheMic) nutso call for the #Vikings win #NOvsMIN pic.twitter.com/gNev8sSDg2
— corey marra (@coribald) January 15, 2018
It’s a real shame, as Allen calls this beautifully and if you’re able to single him out without focusing on the analyst, he absolutely nails the catch, the play to stay in bounds and the touchdown…soaking in the moment and crafting a piece of audio that should have stood by itself. However the call will now always be remembered for Allen’s analyst screaming over the top.
This is a perfect example of the analyst to play-by-play relationship going wrong. In the heat of the moment, Allen’s analyst became a fan instead of a broadcaster and overrode the beautiful call of a great moment. Sportscasting is as much about knowing what to say, as knowing what not to say in the moment. Sometimes silence tells so much more than we can ever say, and in this case, Allen’s call punctuated by the Vikings crowd going nuts would have provided a textbook sportscasting moment.
It’s likely this call will be textbook too, but for the wrong reasons.
Check out this article here for an interview with Allen, reflecting on the play, plus some great behind the scenes video on his reaction in the booth.
For me though, I’m not sure that Allen’s call was the best of the bunch. I’m a little impartial to one from an international broadcast (warning: NSFW language)