NFL

An overview of the 57 years of Super Bowl play-by-play; Pat Summerall did 12 and Al Michaels, 11

 

All voices who called a Super Bowl on TV is in alphabetical order

Jack Buck (1) Inclusive and witty 

Joe Buck (6)  Verducci described him, concise 

Kevin Burkhardt (1) Confident and fresh

Dick Enberg (8) Poetic and welcoming

Frank Gifford (1) Soft spoken and experienced 

Curt Gowdy (7) Every broadcaster’s grandpa

Greg Gumbel (2) Won’t get in your way

Al Michaels (11) Tenacious and always reliable 

Jim Nantz (7) A gentleman and never overbearing 

Ray Scott (3 full games and one shared) Personified the operative of ‘less is more’

Pat Summerall (12) Never spoke too much and helped John Madden break in 

Jack Whitaker (2nd Half of first game) Jack told me, “Play-by-play wasn’t my thing”

*******

  • Jon Lewis runs Sports Media Watch. He does a marvelous job sharing ratings. For those of interest in the business, Jon is indispensable. Follow the link just above.
  • For various reasons, the first Super Bowl in 1967 was aired by both NBC and CBS. NBC’s Curt Gowdy would later say that the company’s top executives shuffled around the LA Coliseum frantically. They were hoping to compete with CBS which owned football at the time. NBC had the fledgling AFL. The first Super Bowl in 1967 was shared by CBS and the merged AFL’s, NBC. CBS did a 22.6 and NBC an unsurprising 18.5. Curt Gowdy told me later that it was important for NBC not to get licked in the ratings. In those days, NBC dominated baseball and CBS the NFL. It was decades before cable, paid TV and streaming. 
  • Historically, in 1982 the Bowl produced the highest rating ever, 49.1. San Francisco dueled Cincinnati, in the Silverdome outside Detroit. CBS had the telecast.
  • Some 41 years later in 2023, the audience reached 114.21 million for the Super Bowl. It now includes streaming and many out-of-home viewers.

Discouraging and Striking! 

Never has a Black person served as an analyst on a Super Bowl national telecast (1967-2024 – 57 Years). Greg Gumbel presided over the play-by-play of two Super Bowls, ’01 and ’04.

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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