Monthly Archives: June 2014

Shutdown Corner’s Overrated and Underrated: Broadcaster (Shutdown Corner)

This offseason, Shutdown Corner’s Frank Schwab and Eric Edholm will look into what is overrated and underrated in all aspects of the NFL. We fully expect your angry emails and comments that are sure to follow.
OVERRATED AND UNDERRATED: Broadcaster

OVERRATED

Eric Edholm: Jim Nantz

Granted, anyone who has to caddy for Phil Simms — and that’s what it feels like, watching them butcher a Jets-Patriots game — should be given some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card.

But Nantz, CBS’ signature voice, treats the NFL as his canvas too often, and his strokes are too broad and showy. Things that work for a golf broadcast, or even college hoops, fall short on the gridiron.

Nantz is given respect as if he’s one of the stewards and historians of the game, and though he’s as professional as they come in handling anything that comes at him during a broadcast, he can be a bit hammy or stale.

He doesn’t wax poetic like he does at Augusta or cap his broadcasts with terrible March Madness puns during NFL broadcasts. But he tends to lean too heavily on his personal anecdotes and refuses to challenge Simms on his own ridiculous statements (which is a column unto its own).

I much rather would watch and listen to Mike Tirico, Greg Gumbel (pretty underrated, I might add), Brad Nessler, Kevin Harlan, or even Thom Brennaman or Joe Buck call an NFL game.

Frank Schwab: Jon Gruden
Yeah, this isn’t breaking any new ground. The same criticisms others have of Gruden are the ones that drive me crazy on “Monday Night Football.” Mostly, that he seems to be overly positive about everything in case he gets back in the NFL game.
That’s not the main issue I have, though. It’s expectations. Gruden knows the game maybe as well as anyone on the planet. He’s got a great personality. The quarterback camp stuff he does in the offseason is very good. And there are times he is great during games.
If you want to hear an announcer having a great game, re-watch Gruden on the Washington-Philadelphia opener on Monday night last year. He did an expert job breaking down Robert Griffin III’s issues coming off knee surgery, and a lot of them held up for most of the season. And I want that Gruden all the time. Yet too often he’s the “look at this part of the replay … right … HERE!” color commentator (known as Theismann-ing) or giving a glowing compliment he’s trying to pass off as analysis and I can only hear his “You wanna talk about a guy … ” that leads to some gushing solioquy so often before I hit mute.
I thought Gruden would be a superstar after he moved from coaching to broadcasting (obviously ESPN did as well), and he still might be. Every once in a while you’re reminded he can break down football like almost nobody else. Once those moments become the norm for him, I’ll enjoy “Monday Night Football” a lot more.
UNDERRATED
EE: John Lynch
I remember talking to Lynch late one night at a Super Bowl right after he retired and thought to myself: He just explains football in a clean, crisp and yet exciting way.

Now with a few years of broadcasting under his belt, I can say that Lynch has gotten only better at his craft.

He has deft touch of knowing when to add detail and texture to a call, and when to be critical or praiseworthy, without it ever being heavy. Lynch prepares for broadcasts the way he did in his playing career and there’s no doubt he cares about his work.

There’s a real art in taking complex football strategy — coverages, route concepts or just the abstracts of the game — and making it palatable and thought-provoking. You must do it in a way so as to not make the savants roll their eyes but also in a fashion that engages the more green fans.

I’d love to hear Lynch do a Super Bowl one day. He’d be great at it, and that’s the kind of audience where you attract a lot of once-a-year viewers.

Lynch is a rising star in his business, but he still doesn’t get his proper due. He and Kevin Burkhardt — who earned a playoff broadcast with the Seahawks-Saints game in January, and completely nailed it — are the best game broadcast duo in the NFL that hasn’t gotten its proper due.

If you listen to that playoff game, you can hear that the duo really let the 12th Man crowd speak for itself. They didn’t feel the need to   tell   you how loud it was. That’s veteran, savvy touch right there. Silence is golden, and patience is a virtue.

FS: Matt Millen
Actually, most times I’d probably pick NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, but I know some people appreciate him. Others rip him for talking too much or using too much inside-football terminology, but I (and others) would argue that’s what makes him great. He tries to present the game in an intelligent way. There are a lot of great NFL minds who break down film during the week to explain why plays worked or didn’t. They watch each play numerous times. Mayock gets to see it live and then tries to break it down with seconds to think about it. That’s hard. And he does it very well. I think he’s the best in his field when he does NFL games (he’s a different guy on Notre Dame games, but that’s another story). 
But some others also like Mayock’s work, and I assume I’m the only one left who wishes Matt Millen had a big-time NFL announcing gig.
I’m not here to defend Millen as the Lions GM. He made just about every bad decision a GM can make. If your first comment is to inform me he was terrible running the Lions, I already know. But I don’t think that means he can’t analyze the game. Dick Vitale was bad coaching the Pistons before becoming a great college basketball announcer (I’m referencing the Vitale from 20 years ago when he was great — go back and watch a classic game with him sometime -— and not the guy playing the character of Dick Vitale we suffer through now). Many others are great announcers without being great after not making much of a mark elsewhere in the sport. Mayock played nine NFL games. Bob Uecker hit .200 and he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And Millen, at least once upon a time, was a great color guy.
I don’t believe Millen has been a great fit on ESPN’s college football broadcasts. His stint back on the NFL Network’s Thursday night games a few years ago wasn’t memorable either. Maybe he can’t recapture what he had, but I’d like to see him on an NFL broadcast regularly again to find out. His fiasco in Detroit has caused people to forget that at one point he was considered the next John Madden, when he was paired with Dick Stockton as Fox’s No. 2 team. And they were great. Then Millen went to the Lions and we can’t see him again without thinking about Charles Rogers and Mike Williams.
Millen is a personable guy (go watch the “A Football Life” episode featuring him if you disagree) and has done this job very well before. Maybe he just isn’t as good of an announcer as he was long ago and I’m living in the past. But it seems he’s probably never going to get a good NFL color job again because of mistakes he made running the Lions, and that’s too bad.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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Auction of items at Silverdome nets $500,000 (The Associated Press)

Copper wiring was the hot item during the nine-day auction of more than 3,000 leftovers from the dilapidated Pontiac Silverdome. The sale ended Thursday and brought in about $500,000, The Detroit News reported (http://bit.ly/1l1FJRQ ) Sunday. Items up for grabs from the former home of the Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons included end-zone turf, pretzel warmers, a boxing ring, flat-screen televisions and scoreboards. ”We consider it a success,” said Jim Passeno, facilities manager for Plymouth-based RJM Auctioneers.

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CB Wright surprises 49ers with retirement (The SportsXchange)

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Eric Wright announced his retirement Tuesday. The seven-year veteran is a native of San Francisco, and signed with the 49ers following his release by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason. “The San Francisco 49ers have given me an amazing opportunity to play for the team I grew up rooting for, and I owe the York family, my coaches, and my teammates tremendous gratitude. He was a second-round pick out of UNLV by the Cleveland Browns in 2007 and spent his first four seasons with the franchise before spending the 2011 season with the Detroit Lions and 2012 with Tampa Bay.

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Reports: Broncos offer extension to WR Thomas (The SportsXchange)

The Denver Broncos offered wide receiver Demaryius Thomas a five-year contract extension, according to reports. Financial terms of the offer are not known, but Thomas is scheduled to make $3.27 million in the final year of his rookie contract this season. Thomas, 26, is expected to become one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL. Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson, Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, Seattle Seahawks’ Percy Harvin and Miami Dolphins’ Mike Wallace each have deals that pay them at least $12 million per year.

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Lions, Chiefs cut cornerbacks Chris Houston and Brandon Flowers (Shutdown Corner)

On a random Friday in June, you don’t expect to see a starting NFL cornerback get cut, much less two within hours of each other.
First, the Detroit Lions cut Chris Houston, who has been a starter nearly his entire seven-year career, first with the Falcons and the past four years with the Lions. So that was a bit surprising to see him get cut loose. Then the Kansas City Chiefs one-upped them, cutting Brandon Flowers, who has started 87 games over the past six years for Kansas City and who played in the Pro Bowl just a few months ago.
If you need veteran cornerback help and have some cap room left over, Friday was your lucky day.
Houston and Flowers have been effective players. Flowers is 28 and Houston is 29. They should be able to play for at least a few more years. The problem was mostly money.
Houston was scheduled to make $3.5 million this year. Flowers’ base salary was more than $5 million. The Chiefs had reportedly tried to trade him but couldn’t find a taker. The team can perhaps use that extra money to sign someone else to an extension (quarterback Alex Smith in Kansas City, perhaps?).
Either way, teams that went into June with a need at cornerback suddenly had a couple of intriguing veteran options.
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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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Lions sign first-round TE Ebron (The SportsXchange)

The Detroit Lions signed first-round draft pick Eric Ebron, a tight end from North Carolina, the team announced Friday. Ebron, the No. 10 overall pick, signed a four-year deal worth an estimated $12.2 million with a $7.2 million signing bonus, according to the rookie wage scale. The Lions also have a fifth-year team option. “It’s amazing,” Ebron told the team’s website.

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Lions cut CB Houston with 4 years left on contract (The Associated Press)

The Detroit Lions have cut cornerback Chris Houston with four years left on his contract. The Lions say Friday that a ”significant medical procedure” led to Houston’s release. Houston was limited to 12 games last season because of toe and foot injuries. Houston had not attended offseason workouts so far this year under new coach Jim Caldwell.

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