Over the years, there have been a host of sports analysts, reporters, and sportscasters I don’t like. Of course, most are on the ESPN networks.
There are some I have gone from mildly disliking or loathing to tolerating or appreciating. One of these is Mike Wilbon (mild dislike –> appreciation). Although what he says at times may be hard to hear/read, he is very honest and right more times than not. Another is Keith Olbermann (loathing –> appreciation. Yeah, really). He knows that he rubs some people the wrong way, but I find most of his monologues and interviews amusing.
Anyway, to get to the point of this post, there have been too many sports talk personalities that have gotten on my nerves to count, but there have been four in particular who have consistently irked me: Bob Costas, Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, and Trey Wingo. I will also add Jim Nantz, Phil Sims, and Cris Collinsworth.
General Sports Analysts
To be quite honest, I never liked the guy.
Ask anyone who has seen him for years and they will tell you that Mr. Costas is a person who has to put in his two cents, no matter the circumstance. As an analyst, it is his job to inject his opinion and process information regarding the sports he covers. However, there are intervals where his opinion isn’t needed. That won’t stop Costas from speaking up anyway.
This is not to say that Bob Costas does not belong in various sports discussions. That would be ignorant. His first love is baseball, and of course, he is the go-to guy for NBC’s coverage of Olympic competitions. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he could not pay attention to other sports. On top of that, he is very smart and he has the perfect voice for the occupation.
What annoys me most about him is how arrogant he appears to be. He has to have the last word and act like he is the authority on whatever subject he is covering.
Take for example a discussion he had with [Hall of Fame NFL receiver] Cris Carter when the two were panelists on Inside the NFL (when it was still on HBO). In 2005, Tedy Bruschi, then the middle linebacker of the New England Patriots, had a mini stroke shortly after he and his team won their third Super Bowl in four years. Bruschi’s football future was seriously in doubt and as such, he sat out the offseason workouts, preseason, and the first half of the Patriots’ 2005 season. At one point, the Pats were struggling and went 5-5 in their first 10 games. Cris Carter asked whether the Patriots would look into adding Bruschi back into the lineup to help New England finish strong. Costas said that such a thought was preposterous, since the linebacker had suffered a mini stroke.
The fact is Carter had a point. From time to time football fans will hear how differently offensive and defensive players have been treated in the NFL. When a quarterback or any offensive player suffered a concussion, they would be taken out of the game in most instances and possibly be kept out of the next contest. A defensive back may have suffered a concussion on one play then be told to “Suck it up,” before being put back in the same game. Carter, as a former NFL pro, would know this because he saw these things with his own eyes.
To see Costas still remain adamant in his position was unbelievable. While he was right that a player who had suffered a stroke should be kept out of competition indefinitely, he was being ignorant of the realities of the sport and brushing Carter’s experience aside.
Now, having said this, I will still occasionally listen to what Bob Costas has to say. I had an interest in his short-lived HBO show because he had intriguing slate of guests and provocative interviews. The biggest one in my opinion was his hour-long interview with WWE owner Vince McMahon:
I also wanted to hear what Costas had to say after the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide in 2012…
….although Costas was ultimately off-base.
Now, considering how heated the interview with McMahon got — and Costas’ words about it afterward, even to this day — Costas will get under many a viewer’s skin for the reasons I mentioned above and perhaps one that comes closer to home. I vaguely remember an interview Costas gave on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien years ago. As a younger man, the future sportscaster provoked the ire of a much bigger boy, especially when the former made a wisecrack. I don’t remember whether or not Costas was hit, but I can imagine meeting someone like him. He may get on people’s nerves the most because he reminds them of a smart alec we probably all went to school with between 6-12 grade.
Most ESPN2 viewers will know him from “First Take,” where he normally argues with Stephen A. Smith (whom I will get to in a minute).
I don’t like Bayless, either, for most of the same reasons I don’t like Costas, plus several more.
The first thing that bothers me about Bayless is how he speaks like he is an authority on all subjects he speaks on. This is not to say that Bayless has no real knowledge of what he is speaking about. He does follow sports closely and he works very hard at his job. However, that will not preclude Bayless from injecting his bias in all debates. To use Rick Maese’s words, “He’s created a reality in which he’s always right, and his narrative is always gospel.” Bayless is relentless with his opinions, and will not be deterred by facts.
Secondly, absurdity meets hypocrisy when Bayless’ (anti-)fanboyism is fully on display. Some examples:
- Early on, I wasn’t a fan of Aaron Rodgers, especially after he sulked and bitched about not being picked #1 in the 2005 NFL Draft. (Believe me. The 49ers did him a favor.) That said I never ignored how valuable Rodgers became to the Packers or where he would stand with other quarterbacks in the NFL. Bayless will simply not recognize Rodgers as one of the best currently in the league.
- As a contrast, Bayless is the biggest Tim Tebow fanboy I have ever seen. To this day, you will never see the analyst say anything bad about the former Florida Gator QB, despite the fact that Tebow had poor throwing mechanics and stats in the NFL. I never hated Tebow himself, but Tebowmania and Bayless’s commentary were just too much.
- At one point, Bayless was pushing for Johnny Manziel, whose NFL career is in great jeopardy. The same is true of this young man’s life. Manziel was just waived by the Browns on March 11, 2016 and he faces domestic violence charges.
It is absurd when Bayless hypes up certain dudes who have proven nothing to date while trying to discredit legitimate contributors on their respective teams. It’s also hypocritical when the man then talks down to a fan of another athlete who may be better than Bayless’ personal favorites. When his mind is made up, that’s it and he’s pretty asinine in these instances.
Stephen A. Smith
He is Bayless’ counterpart on First Take and a resident NBA analyst on ESPN.
I have gone from disliking him immediately to tolerating him to mildly loathing him. Why? From jump, he was a blunt loudmouth. He has since refined his normal speech on camera but he will raise his voice to ridiculous octaves (if you can call them that) when arguing with Bayless. I raise my voice at times and have been yelled at, so I know how annoying it can be when someone yells unnecessarily.
Another thing that annoys me about Smith is how he holds up the superstars in the respective sports he speaks about. This is basically what annoys me about sports talk in general and Stephen A. Smith acts like he is the personification of it. While the stars are being praised to high heaven, the “scrubs” are either being ignored completely or outright dumped on. And it’s funny to see that Smith will not show up on days after he has been proven wrong on some accounts.
Still, I will admit that this persona works well for Smith. While he comes off as a pompous jackass, he knows what he is talking about when it comes to basketball and I am drawn to seeing what happens when he is countered in his opinion.
Before I move on though, I also have to mention one ugly episode with Stephen A. Smith. Sometime in 2015, there was a story in which Kevin Durant (of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder) essentially rejected rumors that he was considering joining the Los Angeles Lakers down the line. This involved Smith, as he was reporting on what “his sources” said to him and he took exception to “being called a liar.” While Smith was all right in mentioning another instance in which Durant rejected rumors [that later turned out to be true], Smith was out of line by saying that Durant “wouldn’t want to make an enemy” out of Smith.
What was wrong with this? I’ll tell you. Once in a while, reporters will go after certain athletes they feel are being disrespectful to them or the media in general. It’s petty and hypocritical when you consider how members of the press already treat various athletes. Also, as EventStatus (of Youtube) once said, sometimes members of the press act as if they’re bigger than the game. That is exactly what Mr. Smith was doing.
Nowadays, Mr. Wingo will often be seen covering the NFL exclusively, but he did come over from Sportscenter. I have just never liked Wingo and I doubt anything will ever change that. I don’t watch “NFL Live” most days, but when I do, Wingo often finds a way to piss me off.
After he started hosting “NFL Tonight” (which later become “NFL Live”), it did not take me long to start loathing him. Of course, it started with him talking trash about my team, but it continued when he talked trash about players, too. On top of that, he made dumb jokes.
Case in point: A few years ago, the panel was briefly discussing Tom Brady. Wingo mentioned the guy’s 3 Super Bowl rings (to that point), child (before Brady’s daughter was born), and then-budding relationship with model Giselle Bünchen (now Brady’s wife). “His life is so much better than yours,” Wingo said. Although I know that was a joke and I am not a guy, I really hated that. I felt it was rather insulting to most viewers, even if it was in jest.
NFL Game Analysts
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Yeah, I don’t like these two. Unfortunately, they are designated as CBS’s #1 announcing pair, so anyone who wants to see a Thursday Night game or most important matchups will have these guys foisted on them.
What don’t I like these two? Nantz is kind of a jerk and Simms talks too damn much. Next!
Once a panelist on Inside the NFL (on HBO — plus Len Dawson, Nick Bounicotti, and Jerry Glanville FTW!), Collinsworth would eventually branch out. He went from FOX and eventually landed on NBC as Al Michaels’ announcing partner on Sunday Night Football. (He even does announcing for Madden games. Oh, joy!)
Why am I not a fan of his? Like Phil Simms, Collinsworth talks entirely too damn much, even for a color commentator. This is only made worse by his ownership of Pro Football Focus, an advanced-statistics analysis website (which requires subscriptions for more in-depth analysis). That only gives him another opportunity to talk — and to shove many of those statistics down our throats.
And yeah…he’s still salty about losing to the 49ers twice in the Super Bowl. You can hear it in his voice. 😛
Next up, I will be talking about opinionated actors and network agendas.