“Familiarity breeds contempt,” is a time-worn idiom. And it’s not wrong. The more we see, hear, or interact with someone… the greater the chances we have of becoming utterly sick of them.
And when it comes to modern sportscasters on TV, play-by-play men and analysts in particular, the risk of ending up hating them has never been higher. It’s not that Troy Aikman is a bad guy, its just that I have – by now – expertly tuned my ears to hear how he says virtually NOTHING of interest when purportedly “analyzing” a play.
The same goes of Al Michaels. Supposedly, a swell guy off the camera and microphone. I also respect his historic resume. But…. all I can hear now is how he stretches and fills big plays with an elongated “whine” until he can spot what actually happened.
With Verne Lundquist, I never tired. His exiting the lead chair on CBS’ coverage of the SEC is genuinely sad. I felt like he had been pushed out. I wanted “Uncle” Verne on Saturday afternoons on my TV, and “Uncle” Brent on at night – forever. But then I read about Lundquist’s upcoming back surgery, and realized that nothing lasts forever.
At least CBS and Verne did it right. The executed a smooth departure, with no bitterness, awkwardness, or back-stabbing.
Richard Deitsch of SI.com has a wonderful multi-media piece which could easily be called “Verne 101” if you need some backround.
When I think of what it was about Verne that made him so universally loved around the SEC, and the nation watching at home, it wasn’t because he is some kind of play-by-play wiz. No, in fact Verne’s calls are often un-even, organic, and lacking the typical network polish.
What made Verne beloved were two simple qualities, that shone through on every game he called.
Humility and wonder.
He knew he was the luckiest sonofagun to be sitting up in that booth every Saturday. And you knew, that he knew it, by the way he called games.
And when “incredible” happened on the field below him, his booming voice and guttural growl provided the perfect soundtrack. A nearly 75 year old man, seeing sports with the eyes of a 10 year old boy.
Here’s to you, “Uncle” Verne. You were the best!
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) December 4, 2016