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Five Up, Five Down: Down the Drive’s Definitive Sports TV Analyst Rankings

Jason Witten is the new analyst on Monday Night Football. Who else is good (and bad) at commentating? Here are the best (and worst) there are. Editor’s note: Clayton’s list is less accurate than Phil’s.

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There was some big TV analyst news this week as Jason Witten was named the replacement for Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football. When Gruden first took the job, I wasn’t sold, but he slowly warmed my cold heart and by the time he became the Oakland Raiders head coach (again), I was sad to see him go. Witten has some big shoes to fill. If he hopes to do a good job, perhaps he can take some cues from our favorites.

Clayton’s Top Five

1. John Madden

Madden was a born entertainer who taught millions of Americans about professional football through his every-man humor. He never dominated the broadcast. Madden worked seamlessly with Pat Summerall, the best play-by-play man in the history of the pro game.

2. Doris Burke

Providence College’s own Doris Burke combines a dry wit with top notch analysis. She situates her explanations thoughtfully within a thorough understanding of the history of the sport. There is a sense of proportion to the way that Burke presents basketball.

3. Bobby Heenan

The dearly departed “Brain” had an unsurpassed off-the-cuff wit. Heenan was at his best in the least interesting of contests, providing viewers with a reason to stay tuned to a PJ Walker-Barry Horowitz match.

4. Troy Aikman

The Hall of Fame quarterback provides clear, consistent, and accessible analysis. He is the perfect color man for a national broadcast.

5. Fran Fraschilla

The former Manhattan and St. John’s coach explains the Xs and Os of his sport as well as any analyst.

Clayton’s Five Down

1. Howard Cosell

A nattering nabob of negativism. The prototype for every know-it-all sports commentator who seems interested in everything but sports.

2. Dick Vitale

The luckiest man in broadcasting. A never-was turned cable television buffoon.

3. Billy Packer

The uncle you try not to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Dan Fouts

A fretful grump whose nails on a chalk board voice always gets attached to the games of my New York Jets.

5. Chris Webber

If you listen to Clutch-Webb for five minutes, you’d think he played the game like a mixture of Anthony Mason and Bill Russell.

Phil’s Five Up

1. Chris Webber

C-Web is the best and isn’t utilized nearly enough by TNT. Also, the Sacramento Kings were jobbed in 2002 and Clayton has been fired.

2. Jay Bilas

The Bilastrator is outspoken about the ugly parts of college athletics and he’s also a fun guy to listen to when he talks about basketball. Plus, if you like Jeezy, you’ll love his Twitter.

3. Doris Burke

Although she is often on the sidelines, Burke is excellent in the booth, providing insights from the front lines that you don’t always get.

4. Tony Romo

I really liked Tony Romo’s first season. He didn’t just state the obvious or sit on the fence. He made definitive statements.

5. Bill Raftery

Phil’s Five Down

As always, in descending order.

5. Jordan Rogers

I still can’t believe JoJo got rid of Luke.

4. Aaron Boone

If you didn’t know, I moonlight as a writer for Over the Monster, SB Nation’s Red Sox blog. I can’t see or hear Boone without thinking of the 2003 ALCS. He’s back on the field now, but was with ESPN’s MLB coverage for a few years before becoming the manager of the New York Yankees.

3. Tommy Tuberville

I guess I like him better as an analyst than a coach of the Bearcats?

2. Dennis Miller

Give me a week and I’ll have a sick burn ready.

1. Tim McCarver

I’ll let 2012 Al Yellon take this one.


Disagree with us? Let us know in the comments, on Twitter or via a FanPost. Also, if you want us to rank something specific next week, let us know.