Which sportscasters are best, worst?
At its best, sports commentary adds to the game by educating viewers and listeners on the intricacies of the sport, particular plays, and on and off-field issues coaches and athletes face. There are some absolute legends in the field, whose insights make their reports can’t miss media. Announcing duos Pat Summerall and John Madden and Jim Henderson and Archie Manning were great examples from the booth. Peter King and locals Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder are fantastic writers who bring their readers between the hashmarks and into the locker room. In his profiles of Olympians, Bob Costas routinely makes the world’s greatest athletes identifiable to Americans across the nation.
There are also some that are good more often than not, but still manage to present boneheaded takes from time to time – looking at you, Colin Cowherd.
Some make such obvious observations they’ve become laughable memes, cough, Booger.
And there, like Chris Berman and Jim Rome, who have become caricatures of themselves.
At its worst, however, bad sports commentary is highly opinionated, doesn’t add any depth or understanding, and, most grievous of all, ill informed.
I’m sure you’ve already got a few in mind. Just saying the names of some sports personalities – Joe Buck, Cris Collinworth, Stephen A. Smith – can throw some fans into a full-on conniption fit.
For every good to great announcer, play-by-play man, or commentator there seems to be a handful or two of those whose mere mention forces muting the station or changing the channel. For me, there’s one guy who has really stood out for all the wrong reasons for the past few seasons – co-host of NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk Live and Football Night In America analyst Chris Simms.
Son of Super Bowl XXI MVP Phil Simms and the older brother of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Simms, Tampa Bay drafted Chris Simms out of Texas in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In seven years in the NFL (Five with the Buccaneers and a season with the Titans and Broncos), he played in 23 games, posted a 58.1 percent pass completion percentage, 3,117 yards, 12 touchdowns and 18 interceptions for a career passer rating of 69.1. He served as a coaching assistant with the New England Patriots in 2012 before picking up a microphone and moving in front of the camera in 2013.
One would think a solid pedigree, such as Simms’, would give him unique insight to the game. But almost every time he opens his mouth he says something gobsmackingly stupid. Call me a homer, but I first took notice of his askewed view when he discussed the Saints. Hardly ever does he have a good thing to say about them, even though they’re the three-time reigning NFC South champion.
Simms’ latest infraction comes with his picks for the Top 40 NFL Quarterbacks entering the 2020 season. He’s got the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes at No. 1, the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson No. 2, and the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers No. 3. An argument can be made for his Top 3, but his list gets really crazy from there. The biggest issue I have is with his placement of Saints QB Drew Brees.
Last season, Brees played at an MVP-caliber level. He was the most accurate passer in the NFL with a 74.3% completion rate, threw for 2,979 yards, 27 touchdowns (fifth most thrown in the NFL despite missing five games), and only four interceptions. Seems like that would qualify him as a Top 5 QB, Surely, Top 10, right?
Nope. According to Mr. Simms, Brees isn’t even in the Top 15. Simms ranks Brees as the NFL’s 16th-best QB. Ahead of him are stars like (7) the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, (8) Cowboys’ Dak Prescott, (9) Lions’ Matt Stafford, (10) free agent Cam Newton, (11) Titans’ Ryan Tannehill, and (13) Viking’s Kirk Cousins.
I don’t know which NFL games Simms is watching – or if he’s chemically enhanced – but it can’t be the games the rest of us are seeing.
Simms represents NBC, a strong brand in the sports world, and he’s besmudging the peacock’s name. His prognostications are unsound, and even casual fans of the game know something is wrong when Brees, much less Tom Brady are ranked so low.
If there is anything encouraging about this list, it’s that he considers all three of the Saints QB’s Top 40 talent. He ranks Jameis Winston at 33 and Taysom Hill at 36.
I want to hear what you have to say. Who are favorite sports commentators? Who can’t you stand? And what could Chris Simms possibly be thinking?
Chris Simms Top 40 NFL quarterbacks rankings for 2020
- Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
- Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
- Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
- Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
- Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
- Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
- Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
- Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
- Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions
- Cam Newton, Free Agent
- Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
- Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
- Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
- Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
- Philip Rivers, Indianapolis Colts
- Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
- Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
- Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
- Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
- Daniel Jones, New York Giants
- Sam Darnold, New York Jets
- Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
- Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
- Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
- Andy Dalton, Dallas Cowboys
- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins
- Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers
- Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Nick Foles, Chicago Bears
- Case Keenum, Cleveland Browns
- Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
- Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
- Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots
- Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints
- Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
- Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
- Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins
- Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins