My friend and esteemed colleague Ken Fang put together a post over on Fang’s Bites entitled Why Do We Hate Chris Berman?

The post includes a lot of feedback from readers indicating just why they, in fact, hate ESPN’s Chris Berman. The first one is particularly nasty, and it continues through many of the rest of the comments.

I’m going to be in the minority among the readers of this site, and perhaps of sports media people in general, but I’ll just say it anyway.

I don’t hate Chris Berman.

Now, I’ll admit I don’t watch the Home Run Derby, which was mentioned several times in the comments from people. But let me get this straight – people are seriously annoyed at his performance during this fake sports event? Seriously? Do they want a serious announcer during this farce? Some of the criticisms about him may be valid, but do they warrent the type of hate that is generated out there?

I guess I view Berman like my Uncle George. My Uncle George is in his 70’s now, and when I saw him last week, he did all the same tricks for my two-year-old son that he did for me when I was a kid. He knocked on his head and made a noise like it was hollow. He pretended to pull off his thumb. My son laughed uproariously. You know what? I smiled too.

Maybe it’s just dumb nostalgia, but I like watching Berman on Sunday NFL Countdown. In fact, I like a lot of the older guys who have been around forever, even though they’re not what they once were. Even though they might make a lit of mistakes. Guys like Dick Stockton. Dick Enberg. Vin Scully. I actually miss John Madden.

Berman isn’t quite in that category, and it’s different because he’s not usually a play-by-play man like the above gentlemen. But he’s an institution in his own right. It’s somehow comforting to turn on the T.V. Sunday morning and hear him talking about the games that day. So  much has changed in the world, yet, Berman is a constant. He’s been there through so many stages in my life. It’s hard to explain, but there will be a void when Berman, and these other sports broadcasters of my youth (and well before that) are no longer doing their thing.

I often read and hear harsh, even mean criticism against some of these veteran broadcasters, and can’t quite figure where it comes from. These guys deserve a measure of respect for what they’ve accomplished in their lives.  Berman has been with ESPN almost from the beginning, and has worked himself into the position he is in now. He’s been loyal to the network, and they to him. He reportedly recently had overtures from the NFL Network, yet he signed a new deal with ESPN. From people who know him, he is a really good guy off the set as well. He doesn’t engage in the snarky criticism of everything like many of his peers, he focuses instead on the sports and games and not on made-up drama. I appreciate that.

Hearing a “Rumblin’, Bumblin’ Stumblin’” over an NFL highlight is much like my Uncle George pretending to pull off his thumb. It’s old. It is perhaps predictable. But I still smile.

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27 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Hate Chris Berman

  1. I don't get the hate either. Chris Berman is a very likable guy which is why ESPN keeps him. Compared to all of the obnoxious local guys its hard to find anything about Berman to hate. He helps make sports fun and entertaining. Sometimes folks just take sports too seriously.

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  2. I agree 100%.

    Boomer is great, he's fun, and he is respectful to the players, coaches and to the sport. We need more like him and less of the "kornheisers" of the world and their contrived drama and no-stop critique. Yes, I know, there are winners and losers but must we spend every minute analyzing the losers?

    For some commentators, it seems like the sports participants, the league, coaches and players are liberal democrats and the commentators are fox news "analysts". I am not trying to crank on fox news, but just to acknowlege the non-stop combative nature of the talking heads.

    There is some good in sports and boomer helps us to see and enjoy it. Bravo.

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      1. You can find clips like that for just about any TV personality. It doesn't lower my opinion of Berman at all. So he doesn't tolerate idiots who are being oblivious on the set of TV taping. Big deal.

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        1. Well, if you can find me a clip like this with another TV personality, I would like to see it.

          If he snapped saying one or two lines I can understand. This is a full on Chrisitan Bale meltdown. Only people with monster egos believe it is acceptable to yell at a subordinate in such away. It is a TV show. They weren't about to storm a beach.

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          1. When I went to the video, the right sidebar was filled with "similar" videos from many other sports broadcasters – several on ESPN.

            And that clip was certainly not on the level of the Christian Bale meltdown. Not even close.

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          2. For sports ones we have Marino punching a table, the Denny Green MNF Rant, Costas "bitch slapping" Bode Miller, and the Jim Rome/Jim Everett incident.

            None of them yell at a colleague except Bill O'Reilly. Here it is:

            Bruce, you will think this is cool because he doesnt tolerate the idiot.

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          3. I shouldn't have brought your son into this..

            I just don't believe his shtick is that he is the happy go lucky portly guy that can be at the end of any bar watching a game and talking with you and making you laugh.

            Your uncle George on the other hand sounds like that guy you would do that with.

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  3. I honestly can't remember him ever doing the contrarian schtick that everyone seems to do now … that is definitely an improvement over his co-host Tom Jackson.

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  4. No hatred here.

    It's probably more a product of his act being close to thirty years old now, and hence, the proverbial "his act is getting old" complaint arises frequently. It was very original back in the early 80s and it was fun and refreshing, but now watching Berman do his NFL schtick is almost like being 40 years old and seeing KISS live for the 8th time. When you were 15 and the whole makeup and pyro and fire-breathing stuff was new to you, you were awed and you couldn't wait to see it a second and third and fourth time. But now, it all seems a bit trite and "old news", and while you still like the songs, you've heard them all before and heard them performed better when Gene and Paul were a lot younger.

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  5. I miss Madden and Summerall. I always associate their voices with watching fooball with my dad while he prepared Sunday dinner

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  6. Hard to develop any hate for Berman when there are so many worse people out there .. even just limiting it to ESPN – Schlereth, Jackson, Alien Clayton, Jemelle Hill etc…

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  7. I half agree with you Bruce. I have no problems with Berman when he does football. However, when he does baseball, or, worse, golf, I find him terrible to unlistenable. Those are not sports where non-stop schtick does well.

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  8. Bruce, I can respect your valuing of continuity and consistency.

    For many of us however, Berman has become consistently obnoxious. Forget the HR Derby: I'm talking about his studio hosting duties. Aside from the nicknames he doles out (and even those are only refreshed by rookies, roster turnover and retirements), he's been using the same gimmicks the last 15+ years: 'Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills', 'The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field', 'The Rayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy-dahz!'. Fingernails on a frigging chalkboard. By comparison, James Brown has proven to be consistently solid as a host over the same period of time, WITHOUT the shtick. Although he hasn't been around as long as Brown and Berman, the same goes for Ernie Johnson on TNT.

    I don't 'hate' Berman either; in fact, I exclusively watched Countdown/Primetime back in the late 90's, early 00's myself. But now that I'm 30 and my tastes are more refined, I'm satisfied with straight reporting and can do without the same old tired antics.

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    1. You forgot his "impression" of Jimmy Johnson yelling "How 'bout them Cowboys!!" whenever Dallas wins a game. That one never gets old either (sarc)

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  9. Like everyone else, so far, I don't hate Berman. BUT… the only issue I have ever really had with him is when he does do play-by-play in baseball or golf, his schtick is annoying. Making silly references and jokes when talking over highlights, is one thing, but the nicknames at a golf tournament and the silly sound effects during a baseball playoff game seem out of place to me.

    Otherwise, he is knowledgeable, has great contacts, is generally funny, and best of all… seems to care about what he does for a living. For that, I give him great kudos.

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  10. I think the youtube clips of his freaking out off camera have hurt his rep. Search "Chris Berman Blows His Top." Not saying it's fair, but it is what it is.

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  11. Berman is fine, if only for counter-balancing the agendas Tom Jackson and the rest of the goofball analysts try to push against certain teams.

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  12. I like Berman a lot. I've also read several stories that say he's a great guy both on and off the set. Berman's at his best doing the NFL. His postgame show is a lot better than the wretched NBC with Keith Olbermann and Peter King.

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  13. Interesting. I give him props because he's a guy who clearly loves his job, doesn't muckrake and, as Paul says, he's been fair to the Patriots. But I can't watch the home run derby because of his announcing – even taking into account there's only so many ways to call a home run.

    I don't think he's polarizing; his shtick is just a wee bit too old, too tired for me. Still he's good for ESPN and seems like a guy you'd enjoy having a beer with.

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  14. I find ESPN in general very easy to ignore these days – not just Berman. I just don't care for the way he injects himself into the story (this year @ the Pebble Beach ProAm – they came back from a break and the ONLY golf highlight they showed was Berman putting).

    I realize that – this is not his fault – but I don't think people are tuning in to see him miss putts.

    I'll watch outside the lines when they have a topic that interests me but other than that – unless the game is on there – I don't watch.

    Good lord, I just reread that – I'm Phil Mushnick and I approved this message.

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  15. Definitely one of the nicest guys in the industry. He respects baseball and football, and is an icon. Kids grow up loving his 'Nicknaming' and they dream of one day being like Berman. Don't understand the hate.

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  16. Berman has descended into self-parody. His schtick is so old it's boring. Even Madden knew when to start cutting back on the "Boom" and "Thwap."

    Of all of Berman's annoying phrases, though, his "I was there" bit shows just how big his ego is. He uses it at every opportunity. He is, by far, the most self-referential broadcaster in sports. Watch Countdown or the segments he does on SportsCenter during football season and count the number of times he goes out of his way to show footage of him at the Niners-Cowboys game with "The Catch" or Ripken's streak record-breaking game. He never just shows the highlight of "The Catch" or Ripken waving to the crowd upon passing Gehrig (sometimes he doesn't even show those highlights). We always have to see footage of Berman with his microphone at these great sports moments. Who the hell cares? Chris Berman, that's who.

    The only person on ESPN more concerned with making himself the show is Vitale, but at least Vitale is, by all accounts, the genuine article and a nice guy.

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