Please Al Michaels, don’t do it….Don’t say yes to working with Herbstreit; TNF TV looking at him



Kirk Herbstreit wants to be an NFL analyst in the worst way. If Amazon hires him to do Thursday Night Football with Al Michaels, that’s exactly what they’ll get: analysis in the worst way! Herbstreit is a guy who sucks the air out of a room.

The New York Post has reported that Michaels, who is the best NFL play-by-player of all time, has been on the one-yard line ready to sign with Amazon, but he’s waiting to see whom they hire as his analyst. If it’s Herbstreit, I have a message for Michaels: Please Al, don’t do it!

Doing college games for ESPN, Herbstreit has invented his own language. A long pass isn’t a long pass, it’s attacking the field “vertically.” A player doesn’t cut left or right to avoid a tackler, he “puts his foot in the ground.” A player isn’t just breaking a tackle, he’s proving his “physicality.” And a runner isn’t hitting a hole, he’s “running downhill.”

Herbstreit, 52, has been with ESPN since 1996 and seemed a perfect fit for College GameDay where he had to share the stage with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and others. But he preferred working the booth as a game analyst far better. It is in the booth where Herbstreit can pontificate as if he was the Commissioner of all college football. And the moment his play-by-play partner even appears to be wrapping up, Herbstreit jumps in and talks non-stop until the next snap, often talking in circles and saying very little.

Al Michaels (left) has worked alongside some of the best ever in the business, like the great John Madden, and recently with Chris Collinsworth. If Al wants to take a vacation while he’s on the air all he needs to do is tell Amazon he’s “good” with Herbstreit. That way, Al would hardly have a moment to say much past hello.

Calling him a “village idiot,” here’s how editor David Halberstam described Herbstreit in a column last December: “The moment (play-by-play announcer Chris) Fowler finishes a sentence, or comes close to stop talking, that village idiot (Herbstriet) has something to say. It starts in a New York second. The man is so self-centered and talks incessantly that he thinks the show is just about him. As he blathers away foolishly, he doesn’t realize that viewers need a breather.

““I just wish that Brent Musburger was still Kirk’s sidekick,” Halberstam also wrote, “and would smack him around a little bit. Herbstreit deserves it. His play-by-play partner Chris Fowler is getting better but he’s a softy and won’t confront (him).”

Beano Cook humorously used to tell ABC’s non-stop fast-talking PR man Donn Bernstein, “Your wife will be the first woman ever to die from listening.” One could easily substitute Herbstreit’s name for Bernstein’s. The man thinks he’s being paid by the word.

Rich Podolsky

Rich Podolsky, an established writer and reporter since the 70s, has been a staff writer for CBS and has written for ESPN, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Palm Beach Post, the Wilmington News Journal, College & Pro Football Newsweekly and TV Guide. He is also the recipient of the prestigious Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers' Keystone Award for writing excellence. A fan of music from the 60s and 70s, he is the author of "Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear," which relates how Kirshner discovered Bobby Darin, Carole King and Neil Sedaka among others, and "Neil Sedaka, Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor,” which tells the inside story of Sedaka’s comeback. His new book, “You Are Looking Live!” is about CBS’ revolutionary pregame show in 1975 which introduced Brent, Phyllis, Irv and The Greek to America.

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Michael Green
2 years ago

I confess that I don’t watch much college football. But I’m wondering how Herbstreit worked it out with Brent Musburger, who certainly is no shrinking violet. I’m reminded of a story Lindsey Nelson told about a pbp guy who reportedly would put his hand over the analyst’s mouth (I have some hope that it might have been Vin but probably not!). But I wonder if perhaps Michaels would say, I control the booth. Which is how it should be.