It’s Time I Lived My Truth: I Love Joe Buck
1:59 PM EST on November 11, 2021
Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday at Defector during the NFL season. Got something you wanna contribute? Email the Roo. And buy Drew’s new book, The Night The Lights Went Out, through here.
By law, you as a sports fan are entitled to despise every studio yakker, every play-by-play announcer, and every analyst you encounter. I know I do. I have a mental Rolodex of announcers who, over the years, have summoned within me a distanced rage that I have grown to cherish: Phil Simms, Chris Berman, Matt Millen, Tony Kornheiser, Jim Nantz, Mark Jackson, Tedy Bruschi, Moose Johnston, Reggie Miller, John Sterling, Larry Michael, Paul Maguire, Joe Theismann, Billy Packer, Tim McCarver, Mark Schlereth, Mike Patrick, Bill Maas, Steve Levy if you give me long enough, etc. I have built a career, a life even, despising these people. Hating them is my truest passion, and hopefully yours.
But I have soft spots, which for the most part I keep to myself. After all, there isn’t a lot to say about an announcer you like, because the best ones let the games speak for themselves and have the timbre to match the moment. Al Michaels is one such constant in my life. Joe Buck is the other.
I’ve never bothered defending Joe Buck to people over the years. This is because once people hate an announcer, they’ll always hate them. Nothing I say will convince you otherwise. Also, when I think of Joe Buck, I’ve been trained, by digital osmosis, to remember him chiefly for his worst moments as a professional: his tepid call of the David Tyree helmet catch, Artie Lange blowing up his HBO show before it even got off the ground, and, of course, “That is a disgusting act by Randy Moss.” Those are all inarguably down moments for a guy who got his break in television thanks to being the son of legendary St. Louis Cardinals play-by-play man Jack Buck. So I’ve been discreet, both with you and myself, about how I really feel about Buck the Younger’s body of work.
No longer. It’s time I said it out loud. I fucking love me some Joe Buck.
Please note that I don’t know Joe Buck at all. He used to trade emails with some of the people I worked with back in my time at Deadspin, once inviting an inebriated AJ Daulerio up into the Fox broadcast booth during a game. But I myself have never corresponded with Joe Buck, so my opinion of him is, at least as of right now, untainted by the vagaries of access. In fact, Joe Buck may hate my fucking guts, given that I once worked at a site that once published a rumor about him hitting on ladies in Vegas right after he’d gotten a vasectomy. All I know of Joe Buck is what I see of him on my television, and what I see I almost always enjoy.
Those worst Joe Buck moments I outlined up above? They’re all over a decade old now. He’s been Fox's No. 1 voice for the NFL for nearly 20 years. He’s been the voice of the World Series, the only voice of it, for even longer. You can’t write the history of 21st century baseball without him, and there’s a LOT of history there. Enjoy his call of the Cubs winning it all for a sampling:
Joe Buck is not his father’s son anymore. You don’t spend this long at the top if you’re some hapless failson with a perpetually cracking larynx and no grasp of the sport you’re covering. While Buck has been flanked over the year by NUMEROUS doodoo-brained megalomaniacs, he’s essentially served as audible shelter from those very same men. He does that by getting the basics right, avoiding breathless overpraising, and by layering on a faint-but-critical touch of sardonicism. I get enough wry asides from Buck during every game that I know there’s an actual person behind the mic and not just a fucking automaton. Like Michaels, Buck is good at letting you know what he thinks, sometimes without outright saying it.
Now, I’d like him to be more direct. I’d like him to say HEY MAN COLE BEASLEY IS A REAL SACK OF SHIT anytime Cole Beasley appears on my screen, but I’ve been watching sports long enough to know that all play-by-play announcers are, by choice or not, company men and women. I know their limits and I know that Joe Buck works well within his. I don’t feel like he’s talking down to me from his lofty perch above the action.
Best of all, Buck’s got the timbre. All I really want out of my play-by-play man is a voice that you could drop an olive on a toothpick into. Buck has that voice now. When he does a game I’m watching, I know it’s an event. He can even make shit like Thursday Night Football seem far more vital than it is. Same as anytime I used to tune into a basketball game called by the now retired Marv Albert. At a certain point, Marv became the voice of basketball. Buck has done that in baseball (if you wanna argue that’s by default, go ahead; but there’s no one in the ESPN announcing rotation I even come close to preferring). And were it not for Al Michaels, and Nantz if I’m being charitable, he’d also be the definitive voice of the NFL right now, and he’d deserve it.
I’ve never hated Joe Buck. I’ve never groaned at his presence on my TV screen. I’ve never felt like he had it in for my team, or wasn’t paying enough attention to them. He’s never cheapened any game I’ve watched. As for Buck’s failure to match the moment on the Tyree catch (which he had a decent explanation for), I think he’s made up for it in the intervening years. I might be biased on that last one, because he was the man behind the mic during my happiest moment as a Vikings fan, and he fucking nailed it.
Everyone’s relationship with an announcer is deeply personal. It’s their voice talking to your brain, often when your brain is at its most agitated and/or vulnerable. If you’re watching a game by yourself, and this happens to me quite often, theirs is the only other voice in the room. So, despite appearances, it’s not easy to get into the booth and call a game live, for four straight hours, and leave the average fan pleased with the exchange. Fuck up just once and they never forgive you. “I don’t hate him” has been my ultimate compliment for announcers all throughout my adult lifetime, so much so that it doesn’t even register with me at first if I actually LIKE the person doing the games. But it’s time I gave Joe Buck credit for achieving more than the bare minimum. He’s the most important play-by-play man in sports right now, and that’s because he’s the best one as well.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.
Seahawks at Packers: The Packers are now a mortal lock to win it all this year. I’ve watched enough sports in my lifetime to know that karma is a LIE, so it’s inevitable that Aaron Rodgers will come back, win the Super Bowl, and then stand there on the dais, without a mask, drinking switchel that Shailene Woodley made and proudly declaring that he owns all the vaccinated haters now. Can’t wait.
Saints at Titans: Speaking of Aaron Rodgers, he got dragged for wearing a The Rise of Skywalker shirt when he went on Pat McAfee’s Tank Top Power Hour this week. I saw Rise of Skywalker in theaters back in 2019. I didn’t read any of the reviews beforehand because I didn’t want that shit spoiled. Then I saw the movie, really liked it, and read NOTHING else about it afterward. No reviews. No thinkpieces. Nothing. If there were tweets about the movie, I scrolled right past them. My enjoyment of TROS is preserved in amber now. I already know that if I see it a second time, I’ll like it much less. So I haven’t. I got what I needed out of that movie and then got the fuck out. It’s the perfect movie crime. I didn’t have to listen to you people make all the same Star Wars complaints you always do after the fact. I am a fucking genius.
You all agreed that Force healing is idiotic though, yeah? That part definitely failed to win me over.
Falcons at Cowboys: The other day I was walking the dog and realized I didn’t have a bag on me. I couldn’t turn around because once the dog gets going, he ain’t stopping until it’s time to drop anchor. So I found the biggest fallen leaf I could and then, when Carter began to squat, I slid the leaf right under his asshole. He shat directly on the center of the leaf, and then I wrapped up the leaf like a burrito and hucked it into the woods. Absolutely flawless two-minute drill. I’m not even sure I bothered to wash my hands when we got back.
Browns at Patriots: In case you thought advertising doesn’t work, I saw an ad for the ID Police stamp roller the other day and I was like, “Hey, that seems useful!” Then my wife saw the same ad not much later and said the exact same thing. So we decided to buy one. Except they cost $10 each and you couldn’t buy just one. So we lost interest. This is a shame, because I was really into the idea of getting rid of our shredder (all home shredders suck) and buying the redpill answer to Wite-Out.
Eagles at Broncos
Vikings at Chargers: Under normal circumstances, this would be a riveting contest between two franchises who, throughout their respective histories, have stopped at NOTHING to sabotage themselves in vital moments. But these Chargers have their shit together now. The three games they’ve lost weren’t lost because they ran a QB draw at the 10 with two seconds left or anything like that. All of their losses have been normal. The Vikings, on the other hand, appears to have absorbed the Chargers’ entire history of bad juju and added it their own. This week alone, the Vikings have all contracted COVID, and their franchise running back got accused of domestic assault. Some truly majestic shit. So if you’re a Chargers fan and you’d like to watch the OTHER team meekly piss away a lead for a change, Sunday afternoon has you covered.
Ravens at Dolphins: Lamar Jackson worked his magic against the Vikings last week and I wasn’t even mad at him for it. If it’s Carson Wentz coming back to beat my team? Oh my god FUCK him, and fuck his family, too. But Lamar Jackson resides firmly in the category of players I don’t mind losing to: him, Kyler Murray, Matt Stafford, Joe Burrow, etc. Those are all players I must hand it to, and do. But Wentz? Never.
Chiefs at Raiders
Panthers at Cardinals
Jaguars at Colts: The Colts are one of only five losing teams in the AFC right now, but only four teams in that conference have a better net point differential, and none of them have this man:
So yeah, if Indy sneaks into the playoffs and I have to go against Jonathan Taylor, I’m shitting my pants.
Bills at Jets: I watched the first two seasons of Succession just this fall, so that I’d be all caught up when the third season premiered. I now realize that I enjoyed watching this show much, much more when I wasn’t watching it with the rest of you shitheads. I’m programmed to want to stay parallel to the zeitgeist and watch the show everyone is talking about right as they’re talking about it. But really, what do any of you add to the experience here? All you do is theorize potential spoilers, or you nitpick, or you’re watching every episode strictly on a gif hunt. I liked it better when I could think about the stupid show by myself and for myself. Turns out that the water cooler BLOWS. I’m gonna smash that goddamn water cooler with a sledgehammer (the part of the sledgehammer will of course by played by David Rasche). From now on, I’m staying years behind on EVERYTHING: Succession, Star Wars, paying my taxes, you name it.
Lions at Steelers: Since Fox hired Mike Pereira to be their rules analyst, every other network has followed suit by turning a relatively anonymous former ref into a TV star. Who’s to say our current referees wouldn’t like one of those jobs for themselves, hmm? Who’s to say Tony Corrente didn’t give Cassius March a little bit of “the business” the other night because he wants to be A FAMOUS GLORY BOY, hmm?! It’s possible! Not only is it possible, it’s certain. Watch Corrente hop in the wayback machine and enjoy a televised chuckle at Marsh’s expense when he’s the studio five years from now. DON’T SAY I DIDN’T PREDICT IT.
Rams at Niners: I know I’m getting old because I am now much more offended if you tell me something stinks than if it sucks. Everything sucks. That’s nothing new. But if you tell me my favorite band/movie/team stinks? How dare you be so callously dismissive, sir. Who gave you a license to hand out odors, huh? Maybe YOU are the one who stinks. I’ll cut you good.
Bucs at WFT
Pregame Song That Makes Me Wanna Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall
“Smoko,” by The Chats! Lemme tell you something: You have NEVER heard someone sing with more of an Australian accent than the man in the video above. From Patton:
These guys were 16 when they made this song and are far too young for the amount of angst displayed in their description of a summer job.
Basic understanding of Australian helps to make a bit of sense of it, but most of it is picked up through context.
Smoko: Smoke break
Centrelink: Australian welfare? Honestly never gotten a clear answer.
I don’t want one. I’d rather imagine its meaning.
Worst Quarterback In The League Of The Week
Jordan Love, who is heir to the fabled Packers quarterback lineage and who, for the bulk of last Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, couldn’t hit a fucking backboard with a tennis ball. And I know you’re saying, “Gee whiz, he only played one game and did it under emergency circumstances; cut him a break!” That’s exactly what you’re saying. I can actually hear you saying that right now because I’m right outside your window. And so I’d like to respond to you by saying: No. Fuck Jordan Love. He sucks and he’ll never get better. I’m glad the Chiefs made his mom and his wife watch him play from outer space.
Bad Local Commercial Of The Week!
Dan Dan the Mattress Man! Submitted by Ben:
As a resident of Mid-Michigan, I present to you the local mattress salesman in Midland and Mt. Pleasant: Dan Dan: The Mattress Man. And no, that second "Dan" is not a typo.
I never thought it was. Anyway, Dan Dan is not the star of this commercial. The real star is… well, I can’t spoil it. But I can say I burst out into audible laughter the second I hit play. All of this man’s furniture looks like absolute shit, by the way.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2021 chopping block:
Jon Gruden – FIRED!!!!
(* - potential midseason firing)
The Panthers currently rank 27th in overall offense, behind even the Lions and Jets. Can you believe a college coach known for his offensive prowess would end up overseeing a pro offense that’s like watching Elvis die on the toilet? WHO WOULD HAVE FUCKING GUESSED.
SHAMELESS BOOK/LIVE PODCAST PLUG
The Night The Lights Went Out is now available everywhere books are sold. I have nothing colorful to add to the plug this time around. All I have is a good book, which I hope is sufficient.
What’s that you say? You require MORE than faux humble salesmanship? Oh well then get ready to have YOUR BALLS ROCKED OFF. We’re hosting a LIVE episode of The Distraction at Caveat in New York on Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m. You can buy your tickets right here, and get $5 off using the code DEFECTORPAL. Very tricky promo code. We’re also live-streaming the event if you can’t make it to the bar but you also need tickets for that. So get off your ass and get those tickets right now (NOTE: you do not actually have to get off your ass to do this), or else you’re a fucking LOSER.
Great Moments In Poop History
Reader Sam sends in this story I’ll call CHARI-ASS OF FIRE:
I’m a fat guy runner. I usually run between six and seven miles a day before anybody in my house is awake. During the summer, I have a great route that starts out on a municipal golf course in my neighborhood, so I start on that for about the first 1.25 miles. The best part of it is that there’s a porta-potty right by the mower shack that I hit almost every time I run. It’s a perfect place. From there, I can leave the golf course and do another 5.5 miles or so. So one day in July, I’m heading into the section where I usually follow the cart path on a loop around the fourth hole and double back to the Porta-Potty. My stomach is starting to rumble seriously, but I figure I can do it. I run most of the way around, but with about 100 yards to go, my poor b-hole gives way and I shit myself something vicious. I’m wearing a pair of compression shorts under some basketball shorts, and they do exactly what they’re supposed to do. They compressed that shit all around me without letting much out. It was very bad. I shit-waddle to the Porta-Potty, clean off as best I can with the crappy Porta-Potty toilet paper, and pull down the compression shorts. I thought about ditching the shorts, but they’re nice and kind of expensive, so I hoped that a trip through the wash machine would take care of them. I pull the slimy shit and sweat covered shorts up and cover them with my basketball shorts. Those were clean.
At that point I made a strange decision: I decided to run another 5.5 miles in shit shorts. I’m not going to lie because that was the run I was most proud of in 2020.
I’m proud of you too, Sammy Boy.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Apple butter. Right out of the jar. No shame. There’s a realtor in my area who gives out free jars of apple butter. This is a realtor thing, where they pick a random piece of swag that becomes their calling card. So I’ve eaten a lot of free realtor apple butter, even though we’ve never tried to sell our house and even though I can’t remember this guy’s name and would NEVER hire him.
Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week
Goebel! Straight from Michigan! From Jim:
Goebel Beer out of Detroit, Michigan has an amazing history. It was once popular in the 1940's and 1950's, and was a long-time radio sponsor of the Detroit Tigers. It had a resurgence in the 1970's and 1980's as a low-priced beer, but now you can't buy it anywhere. In 2005 the Pabst Brewing Company, owner of the Goebel brand, stopped making it.
Back in 80's when my friends and I were in high school, Goebel was the cheap beer of choice. At two bucks a six-pack it was a pretty good deal. Like idiots, we sometimes pronounced it with a French accent ("zho-bel"), you know, just to impress the ladies. Suffice it to say, they weren't.
My friend Mick remained a fan and, thanks to eBay, has amassed an impressive collection of Goebel memorabilia. He still bought the occasional 12-pack, but it was getting harder and harder to find. Eventually the only place he could find it was from a local beer distributor, whose only other customers for it were chapters of the American Legion and VFW. When he was told by the distributor that Goebel was being discontinued, he immediately bought four cases. By 2008, he was down to his last 12-pack.
I respect Mick’s dedication to the Goebel lifestyle, although you festoon your den with enough shit that says GOEBEL on it, people might misread the name and think you’re into collecting a different sort of memorabilia.
“I don’t care if he got flagged, I LOVED that guy’s energy. I tell my guys that’s the kind of energy I want us to have. I want you to be you. I don’t care if you get flagged, or if the other team puts you up on their bulletin board, or if you blow a coverage because you were doing a TikTok dance. Football is more than a game. It’s an expression of yourself. That’s why, in my playing days, I’d tell the huddle a REALLY good dead baby joke instead of listening to the actual playcall. Because that helps forge bonds that last both on AND off the field.”
[inaudible press conference question]
“No I don’t want Odell here.”
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Lions Fans
Free Guy, which I actually liked. Granted, my expectations for Free Guy were so low as to be nonexistent, but then the movie turned out to have actual ideas in it. Ryan Reynolds plays a feckless NPC in a video game who comes to artificial life and then must come to terms with the fact that he’s not a living organism and may not have free will of any kind. It’s not as deep as, like, AI, but it’s still WAY deeper than I thought I’d get. I didn’t even know Taika Waititi was the villain in this before I rented it. Put Taika Waititi in any movie and it’s already better than the average blockbuster.
My only beef with Free Guy is that it contains surprise references to Star Wars and The Avengers as a vital plot point, like the studio wouldn’t give Shawn Levy the dough to make it unless he wedged in one dumb moment to make fanboys jerk themselves dry. I don’t need my movies to talk about other movies. Stick to the fucking story.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
“This is a bootleg copy of ‘Itchy & Scratchy Meets Fritz the Cat’. Because of its frank depiction of sex and narcotic consumption, it is not for infantile intellects such as yours. Now toodle-oo.”
Enjoy the games, everyone.