Mike Goldberg made his debut as an NFL on FOX play-by-play announcer during Sunday’s Lions-Vikings game, and many fans came away unimpressed. When those fans told him so on Twitter, Goldberg did not react well.
In a series of tweets, Goldberg dropped the F-bomb on one fan, called another fan an “a–hole,” and a third fan a “douche.” Not exactly the most professional way to conduct himself.
In fairness to Goldberg, some of those fans were being jerks about it. But when you’re a public figure and someone acts like a jerk toward you on Twitter, you’re better off ignoring it than responding with an F-bomb.
And in fairness to the fans, Goldberg really did make quite a few mistakes. He stumbled over names, got faked out on play-action passes, misidentified players and coaches and lost track of the down and distance.
One mistake was particularly telling: Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw a pass to receiver Greg Jennings, and Goldberg at first said the intended receiver was Golden Tate. Obviously, Tate was not the intended receiver as Tate plays for the Lions. Jennings and Tate both wear No. 15, which suggests that Goldberg saw a player in a No. 15 jersey, looked down at a roster in front of him, and called the name of the wrong No. 15. It’s easy to understand how that mistake was made, but hard to understand why Goldberg needs a roster to identify players like Jennings and Tate, who are their teams’ leading receivers. A well-prepared announcer should know prominent players like Jennings and Tate without having to look up their jersey numbers.
Goldberg’s primary job is working as a commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and FOX broadcasts some UFC events, so that connection is apparently how he drew the NFL assignment. But perhaps FOX needed someone with more experience in the NFL. An obvious choice would have been veteran sideline reporter Pam Oliver, who seems to be getting phased out at FOX and has been removed from the network’s top broadcast team. Amid accusations that shoving Oliver aside smacks of age and/or gender bias, FOX has insisted that it respects the work Oliver does. So why not demonstrate that respect by putting Oliver in a high-profile position like calling play-by-play?
Instead, FOX turned to Goldberg, and the reviews of his work were harsh: Sean Yuille of the Lions fan site PrideofDetroit.com called it, “the worst broadcast of a football game I have ever witnessed.” But just because the reviews were harsh doesn’t mean they were wrong. Goldberg would be wise to spend less time sparring with fans on Twitter, and more time preparing for his next game.