Halby’s Morsels: As a kid, Romo loved John Madden; All-time Top 5 Super Bowl network TV analysts

CNBC had an odd take on the high ratings for this past Sunday's doubleheader

On CBS’ telephone press conference yesterday, Tony Romo said that growing up as a football fan, he loved John Madden; admiring the passion and love that the former Raiders’ coach brought to the booth. The truth is that when Madden hit the airwaves for CBS in the late 1970s, he was an enormous hit; introducing at the time a blue-collar vocabulary to what historically were staid network telecasts. John’s impact on football was enormous. Fans were in love with him and with the gruff yet lovable voice he brought. Not since Madden’s arrival on the scene has an analyst had the wow effect of Romo who joined CBS last season.

When Romo was asked yesterday whether he plans to predict plays during the Super Bowl telecast, he explained that he has no agenda–he just prepares and lets it go and flow.

Jim Nantz on Romo: “This isn’t psychic ability. Romo is a film room guru. His accurate projections are a testament to his years of experience and preparation.”

Asked about doing sideline reporting  for the big game for the second time in her career, Tracy Wolfson shared the advice of longtime NFL network reporter Andrea Kremer. She suggested that Tracy absorb the striking environment of the Super Bowl and savor the moment. I guess the point that Andrea made is that sideline reporters are not given lifetime appointments. Enjoy it as long as you can.


Halby’s top five all-time Super Bowl color commentators: (Qualification: Had to serve as an analyst on three or more Super Bowl broadcasts)

  1. John Madden (11, between 1982 and 2009) Pioneer who introduced a natural football vernacular- not the strategic phrases -rather those covering the hard hits and the black and blue on the field
  2. Cris Collinsworth  (4, between 2005 and 2018)  Giddy, occasionally outlandish, insightful and effusive
  3. Troy Aikman  (5, between 2005 and 2017) Straight forward, doesn’t over-talk,  opines and like partner Joe Buck doesn’t get in the way of the game
  4. Al DeRogatis  (3, 1969-75) Heady and reserved, one of early ex-players to serve as an analyst, projected what plays were coming up
  5. Phil Simms  (8, 1996-2016)  An easy listen, not obtrusive, not the liveliest personality, almost nerdy like, still defined rather than pontificated, was like a comfortable pair of shoes on the broadcasts

The other four who’ve worked three or more games as analysts:

Pat Summerall, Dan Dierdorf, Merlin Olsen, Frank Gifford and Tom Brookshier. Summerall did color four times before turning to play-by-play.

Color commentators once or twice on Super Bowl assignments:

Bob Griese, Joe Theismann, Don Meredith, John Brodie, Boomer Esiason, Paul Maguire, Bob Trumpy, Kyle Rote, Paul Christman and Jack Kemp


Columnist Richard Podolsky passes this along:

CNBC should report the news and stick to analyzing the stock market.

You’d think that Kelly Evans and Dominic Chu who are in the news business at CNBC would have a clue. But when they announced today that Sunday’s Patriots-Chiefs championship game drew an average of 54 million viewers they were dumbfounded.

“Frankly I’ am shocked,” said Evans, the mid-day anchor. “I was looking for around 30 (million).” Reporter Chu guessed that the high ratings were because the controversies and slow-motion replays drew fans to their sets.

The ratings were high for three reasons:

  • It was a horrible weather day across the country and one of the coldest, keeping potential viewers indoors glued to their sets;
  • The game was compelling, featuring two of the best quarterbacks of different generations, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, and ended with an overtime touchdown;
  • The opening game was also a nail-biter with the Rams beating the Saints, also in overtime. That game lasted nearly right up to kickoff of the second game not giving fans a chance to leave their TVs.

Of the three, the one that probably played the biggest impact was weather. Back in 1982, the 49ers beat the Bengals in Super Bowl 16 held in Detroit. It wasn’t necessarily a compelling match-up even though it had Joe Montana in his first Super Bowl. Yet, it was the highest rated Super Bowl ever at that time, mainly because the entire East Coast was blanketed with freezing weather.


Ken Levine’s Play in Brooklyn this weekend:

Ken Levine who has contributed to this publication is an award winning Hollywood comedy writer. He wrote for Cheers, M*A*S*H, Frasier and other popular programs. He also did Major League Baseball play-by-play for  Baltimore, San Diego and Seattle.

UPFRONTS & PERSONAL is being  presented this weeked by Levine and directed by Scotty Watson. The process of getting a TV show on a network schedule is examined as one studio attempts to place two sitcoms on the fall line-up. How far will everybody have to go and what compromises are necessary. And yes, it’s a comedy!

Performances are tonight, Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors over 65 and children under 12. Tickets can be purchased online at


Eric Nadel – Rangers

Texas Rangers’ broadcaster Eric Nadel, the 2014 Ford Frick Award winner, published a cute and fun book, Lim-Eric. It’s full of fun whimsical rhymes. It was published by Principito Publishing; Dallas, Texas. Here’s a snippet:

The ballpark here’s spotlessly clean

And the fans in Seattle ain’t mean.

But the games make me nervous.

Perhaps it’s Scott Servais,

Or maybe it’s too much caffeine!

(Incidentally, while I’m at it, my apologies to Eric. I incorrectly listed his birthday as January 16th. It’s actually May 16th. I always said that Eric’s a man ahead of his time.)


Brian Wheeler, Voice of the Portland Trailblazers, who many say is the NBA’s best radio play-by-play announcer is back this season after a lengthy medical leave. To this point, he’s doing only home games but hopes to join the team on the road  shortly.





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.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments