Precious few elite sports announcers are out there. We're talking top-notch. Fox's Joe Buck comes to mind. CBS's Verne Lundquist and HBO Boxing's Jim Lampley are two more. Another one or two might be out there, depending on personal preference. By far, however, at the head of the class is NBC's Al Michaels, left. His mistakes are rare. He never oversells a play or a player. He's about as perfect as you can get, and it was quite a treat for those fans who got to hear him call the Bucs on Sunday night. The only disappointing things? One, most of you were probably watching the Rays. And two, it's unlikely Michaels will call another Bucs game this season.
We're still sour over NBC's John Madden taking the week off, although it allowed Al Michaels a good line to open the telecast with when he introduced Cris Collinsworth. "Cris,'' Michaels said, "(Madden) has left you the Telestrator, three 'Booms!' and one 'Doink!'" You could do a lot worse than the opinionated, humorous and insightful Collinsworth as a replacement for Madden, but it would've been great to hear Madden himself yelling a few "Booms!'' and "Doinks!''
Cris Collinsworth's night was not perfect. He jumped way too quickly from Bucs receiver Ike Hilliard lying on the ground after being hit in the second quarter to whether Hilliardfumbled. He did qualify his remarks by first saying the most important matter was Hilliard's health, but he should've held off just a few moments before going to the fumble. And neither he nor Michaels questioned what appeared to be an illegal hit by Leroy Hill.
Did you hear Bucs fans chanting "Let's Go Rays!'' in the second quarter when Evan Longoria tied Game 7 with a fourth-inning double? Al Michaels did. "The Rays just tied the Red Sox,'' Michaels said. "It's a wonderful time in Tampa Bay sports,'' Cris Collinsworth said.
Best paton the back
ESPN's Steve Young had high praise for Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia on Sunday NFL Countdown. "Probably pound for pound the toughest football player in the league,'' Young said. "At 5-11, he doesn't weigh a ton but gets every ounce out of his body every week. He has got this team playing well. Defensively, they're playing better, and it's a good combination for the Bucs."