Welcome to the Wednesday War Room, where your favorite Yahoo Sports NFL writers weigh in on the most serious and critical NFL topics of the day. Read on for how you can join in. Today, we’re talking replacement quarterbacks and replacement announcers. Onward!
Question: You’re starting an NFL team and you need to pick up a quarterback. Of the talent available — Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo (let’s say you have a big checkbook) — which would you go after, and why?
So many questions. Am I close to a title? I might pick Tony Romo for a one-year push. What kind of offense am I running (or willing to run)? If I have a pocket-passing game, Romo or Jay Cutler might be my best options. More of a rollout/bootleg/outside-the-pocket deal? Maybe I’d be more apt to sign Kaepernick, or (gasp) Griffin. I’d also want to know who my backup or No. 3 options were in this hypothetical deal. I know I am being a little too literal here for this question, which boils down to a “who is better?” type of thing. And that’s completely fair. It’s just that their styles are so different and each have their warts. Remind you a little of the election? If so, I’ll say this: I am firmly in the #NeverFitz camp.
There’s still a small part of me who believes all Jay Cutler needed was an above-average line and the same offensive coordinator for more than one season to unlock his full potential. There’s a bigger part of me who thinks he still has plenty of gas left in his tank. So count me in for writing a check that would lure him back out of the broadcast booth … and inevitably cursing when he throws an interception in the end zone on his first drive back.
Putting aside the contractual details, and the fact that Jerry Jones would want naming rights for your first-born, you can’t really go anywhere but Romo for this one, right? Sure, the guy is as brittle as graham crackers left out in the sun, but when he’s good, he’s so very good. But if we’re sticking in the realm of possibility, you have to go with Kaepernick. Yes, he has only two speeds: throw the ball through the wall, and throw the ball through the floor. But so what? In the right offense, he could still flourish. The whole kneeling-for-the-anthem thing … yeah, that’s an issue for some. But winning cures an awful lot of angry feelings, and you’d win a lot more with Kaepernick than anybody else out on the market now.
Brett Favre is only 47, right? Ah never mind, we won’t go down that rabbit hole. I do believe in the theory that once you’ve decided to retire, it’s over. You’ll never truly embrace the grind again after you’ve checked out. Favre was the exception, but retiring and returning was practically a hobby for him. Because of that, I’m eliminating Cutler and Romo. That brings me to Kaepernick. He’s still young, has the physical tools and is coming off a decent season on a minor-league NFL team. And the talk about “distractions” and “noise” are not based in reality. He’s my pick among those without a job.
Question 2. With the news that college football broadcaster Beth Mowins will be calling an NFL game, what announcer from another sport would you like to see working in football?
No question, it’s WWE legend Jim Ross (checks to see if WWE is a sport … close enough). Everything is better when J.R. is calling it. Imagine Ross on the call as Blake Bortles runs around in the backfield looking to make an ill-advised pass: “Good God almighty, no! DON’T DO IT, NO! … This is making me sick.” Or when Von Miller crushes an unsuspecting quarterback: “Good God almighty, they’ve killed him! As God as my witness, Von Miller has broken Alex Smith in half!” Late in a blowout: “Somebody stop the damn game! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” I’d pay good money for the NFL to let J.R. call a slobberknocker, er, game.
Did you know Michael “Doc” Emrick used to call NFL games? It’s true, for CBS back in the day. I’ve tried to track down audio of a few, but it’s not easy:
Still, I’d listen to that dude call a bubble hockey game. He’s terrific. Granted, the pace of hockey — the constant, chaotic movement — is a perfect match for his style. But I just think he’s such a malleable and smart guy that he adapts his style to the action and would have no trouble becoming an ace in the NFL. After all, at age 70 he’s just getting started. Another wild one for you: Ian Darke. I love announcers who can capture the moment and yet not trample on it. There are few better calls than Darke on Donovan’s goal against Algeria in extra time. The pace of soccer, with lots of fits and stops, is not too far from football, where a surprising amount of nothing happens in a three-hour game. Darke might not know this game well, but I bet he’d have it down. Of course, look what they did to Gus Johnson. Sigh.
Pound for pound, there isn’t a better working play-by-play guy than Doc Emrick, NBC’s lead hockey broadcaster. His technical side is superb and he brings a lot of passion and excitement to whatever game he’s calling. Emrick actually called a baseball game for his beloved Pirates last summer and did call some NFL during his days with CBS. So why not let him give network-mate Al Michaels a break during the upcoming Sunday night schedule? I can’t be the only one who wants to hear what collection of verbs he’d employ while calling a bruising run by Ezekiel Elliott.
All of us come to the NFL from other sports — Kaduk and Edholm from hockey, Schwab off the top rope — and me, I enjoy a good ol’ NASCAR race. And nobody was better at calling NASCAR races than Ken Squier, whose learned, dulcet tones told stories in a way no other announcer this side of Vin Scully (who would ALSO be a great pick here, by the way) ever could:
Yes, the redneckiest of sports had as its voice an educated Vermonter who sounded more like he belonged in front of a college classroom than a horde of shirtless race fans. And I’d love to see what Squier could do with the pageantry of, say, Bears-Packers or Patriots-Broncos showdowns. How much of one’s own voice gets lost underneath the weight of the NFL? With all these guys, we’d find out.
Previous War Rooms:
• Was the Bears’ Trubisky debacle the worst draft flub ever?
• Five ways to make the NFL on TV a better broadcast
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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