Six years ago the Giants and Patriots played one of the most dramatic championship games in recent professional sports history in Super Bowl XLII. The defining play of the game may have been the most exciting play ever seen in the Super Bowl - David Tyree's helmet catch.
For those watching on television, the description of the play from Fox announcer Joe Buck didn't quite capture the incredible nature of the moment. In fact, it may be one of the most underwhelming announcing calls of all-time...
The play represented why many fans have ben critical of Buck over the years - a lack of passion and energy and a feeling that he'd rather be anywhere else, like HBO for instance, than calling the biggest sporting event in the world.
But after six years, the Joe Buck you will hear calling Super Bowl XLVIII is a much different voice than the one you heard call Super Bowl XLII.
Fast forward to this year's NFC Championship Game and listen to Joe Buck's call of Richard Sherman's tipped pass that led to the game-winning interception. I'd love to embed it for you, but the NFL's video sharing policy is even more backwards than Major League Baseball these days.
Buck's call of the Sherman play is everything his Tyree call wasn't - energetic, forceful, and capturing the drama of the moment.
With that, the perception of Joe Buck is changing. He used to be known as the anti-Gus Johnson and one of the least favorite announcers of the blogosphere. Now, he's found a fantastic balance between being an understated, classic play by play man and someone who can get up for the big moments.
A couple years ago, you would easily find Joe Buck's name trending on Twitter during a football or baseball game because of detractors of his announcing. These days, Buck is more admired than reviled as an announcer, even by those who were once his critics. In truth, each of the networks' top announcers are all very talented. Although it would be nice to see fresh faces being given more opportunities, the top-line announcers of Jim Nantz, Michaels, Mike Tirico, and Buck all deserve respect for the jobs they do week in and week out.
Just looking from afar, there appears to be a couple reasons for this change in style from Joe Buck. First, Buck joined Twitter a few years ago and immediately began interacting with fans and detractors on a forum that always hasn't been so kind to him. He poked fun at some of the biggest bombs that have been thrown at him over the years (nepotism, Fernando Tatis, Artie Lange) and showed a different side of his personality. Even though he hasn't tweeted since October, perhaps he saw enough to be willing to change gears.
Secondly, there seemed to be a noticeable change in Buck's style ever since a virus in his vocal cords affected his announcing in 2011. For several months, a hoarse Buck soldiered through the MLB regular season despite the ailment that negatively impacted his broadcasting ability. Thankfully, the virus subsided and Buck is back to full health.
Buck told the following to USA Today back in 2011 about battling the illness and the thought that it might end his announcing career. It says plenty about his career and relationship with the sporting public...
"When you get into it as somebody's kid, and you're around it your whole life, it just kind of seems like second nature," Buck said Sunday. "But when the idea of it is hanging in the balance or you feel like it may be taken away from you, you start thinking, 'My God, I really do love what I do.' I'd rather work than not work. I'd rather do a game than not do a game."
Another moment that cemented my personal change of heart about Joe Buck was the call for David Freese's walk off home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series echoing the call of his father Jack Buck, "we'll see you tomorrow night." At first I was hoping the younger Buck would deliver a call of his own, but the endearing tribute was pitch perfect. From then on, I've found Joe Buck to be a much more enjoyable and enthusiastic announcer. With a new partner for next year's MLB season, it should be a fresh start for Fox's baseball coverage and fans of that sport should begin to warm up to Joe Buck just as football fans have in recent years.
Joe Buck has been Fox's lead play by play announcer for the better part of almost 20 years and has been their top NFL voice since replacing Pat Summerall for the 2002 season. At just 44 years of age, he's going to likely be around for another 20 years as their top announcer at least. As he prepares to announce his fourth Super Bowl for the network on Sunday, I'm actually looking forward to his call of the game along with Troy Aikman. It's a testament to his willingness to be more energetic in his delivery even though his status at the top of Fox Sports was set in granite a long time ago.
As we look ahead to Super Bowl XLVIII, it's time to stop worrying and finally embrace Joe Buck, America.
@awfulannouncing Can't do it!
@awfulannouncing I just can't get past Buck's overuse of baseball catchphrases w/o regard for whether they are appropriate or even accurate
@awfulannouncing I had it surgically removed with a lemon ballet during the WS.
I used to dislike ole Joe Buck, too. But it seems he steps his game up in the postseason. He really has gotten better.
Also note: If you took a shot of vodka everytime Buck says, "Pass izz...CAUGHT," you'd be passed out halfway through the first quarter.
I've listened to the replay of Super Bowl XLII a number of times and Joe never does capture the excitement of the game. Still, he and Aikman do a much better job than many of the teams today who try to impress us with the way they can throw terminology around. Watching a game with Mike Mayock doing the commentary is a real chore as he tosses around terms like "leveraging", "physicality", "robber coverage", etc. while praising himself as a guy who knew a player would be good when he was about to be drafted AFTER the player does something good on the field. I'll take understated any time over the windbags on the NFL Network and ESPN.
Well, I think Awful Announcing may have just discredited itself with this. It's like saying "yeah bologna isn't THAT bad--remember how you used to like it as a kid?" or "polio was a more tolerable disease than we are led to believe".
Who else are you going to rescind?
Joe Buck doesn't need me to defend him, but having called NFL games I can understand why that call underwhelms on the surface:
His first job is to confirm it's a catch. From the booth, you see Tyree go up and put his hands up for the catch and his hands go over his head and as an announcer the thought goes through your head that the ball may have hit the ground, so there's no time for hyperbole, just the fact of catch/no catch. The LAST thing you want to do in that situation is jump the gun and rave on what a great catch it is, only to find out that it wasn't. From the booth in real time, it's a very tough look.
Buck confirms it's a catch and then has to deal with yard line, time/timeout situations as well as whatever his spotter and statistician is feeding him. Buck needs to start thinking about the next play and leaves it to Aikman to analyze. Judging by Aikman's reaction, I'm assuming his producer was telling him "wait til you see this replay -- he pins it against his helmet!"
And once that moment is gone, Buck has to be thinking about the next play. Rather than gushing over the catch, Buck stuck to sound mechanics, got the play call right, let his analyst do his thing while getting ready for the next play. Buck played it close to the vest and got vilified for it.
The Sherman play, on the other hand, was easy to see from the booth and thus, much easier to call with enthusiasm. Also, the Tyree catch didn't seal the game for the Giants; the Sherman play did.
I believe that Buck sounded disinterested when his vocal chord problems arose. If you can't push your pipes to inflect properly, you just don't sound "right" as a play by play announcer.
I'm glad that people are coming around and appreciating Buck rather than treating him as a punching bag.
As a Giants fan, I'll never forgive his call on the Tyree play (though winning the Super Bowl softened the blow haha), that said I've come to tolerate him. Partly because he is so ubiquitous, you pretty much have no choice.
Now Aikman on the other hand...
I've been a fan of Buck's since:
"Back at the track, at the wall, we are TIED"
Never got the hate for the dude...EVER. One of my favs.
Still love to think of his annoyance when the White Sox won game two of the ALCS in 2005 after the "dropped third strike" call. That was classic "I so hate Chicago" tone in his voice that few can top.
As a native St. Louisan, it is funny to me how so many people there hate him. Someone asked him once about why him and Aikman will just be silent leading up to a snap. He replied by saying, "It's called letting it breathe." I love that. In an era when PBP guys and analysts make it about themselves, and have diarrhea of the mouth, (a la Phil Simms) silence is good sometimes.
Nothing will EVER get me to look forward to listening to Joe Buck. The man is terrible. His case is not helped by being paired with McCarver for MLB and Aikman for NFL, two of the worst "analysts" to ever call a game, but even with competent analysts beside him, I would STILL choose "mute" over "Buck." joe buck sucks
I am not a big fan of Fox Sports production but Buck's call of the "Helmet Catch" was perfect. Like the best play by play announcers--he was on top of the play--immediately calling it a catch. No drama--no made up histronics. The pictures told the story--and Buck understood that. It was a good job then and it stands up today.
He's really turned it around. The improvement has been impossible to ignore, and it's much appreciated.
He goes on twitter spurts. He is on twitter for a bit and off of it. I wish he was on twitter more as he is engaging.
Joe Buck is a Top 5 announcer for me, and probably the best football announcer (ironically for me I like Soccer announcers more) It still resonates in my head when he called the NFC title game with the packers a few years ago and BJ Raji had that pick 6. I wish people would ease up on him.
Nope. He still stinks. And partner him up with the awful Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver and it's a trifecta of suck.
Interesting that Pat Summerall was never criticized for failing to scream and yell at big points of games, and yet Buck is.
You are ignoring the fact that he never called ANYTHING with enthusiasm, especially baseball, and that he was generally uptight and not having fun. Sports should be fun. It is fun with Marv or Kenny Albert. One time, listen to Vin Scully's call of the Dwight Clark catch and the plays before it.
I agree he is improved to tolerable, maybe better without McCarver who is just fingernails on the blackboard.
@skaus He had a virus that was threatening his vocal chords and therefore his career. Ever try to call a game when your voice is weak? You'll sound unenthused for sure and with the specter of him losing his voice and potentially his career hanging over his head it's a bad mix. Sports IS fun, but losing your career to a virus? Not fun.
@JackPete'sCat Revisionist history. Buck did not know about the vocal cord ailment until 2011, three years later.
Even the Patriots' radio announcer Gil Santos gave a great call of the catch. Buck blew it. He knows it and he is now a better announcer for that happening.