FanDuel - WFBC

December 26, 2005

Why canít it be Miller time again?: A lament from one man who misses big words on his football broadcasts. A sportsfilter column by wfrazerjr.

posted by justgary to football at 02:36 PM - 28 comments

Much as I like Dennis Miller the COMEDIAN, I was turned off when he was on MNF. His $100 words and sub-references are absolutely the best in a comedy setting. However, in that arena it was truly pearls before swine. So, Denny, call HBO back and book that next special before it's too late.

posted by wdminott at 03:01 PM on December 26

Having seen Dennis Miller Live at the MGM in Vegas where his razor-sharp wit is honed to perfection, I cranked up to expect the same when he was on MNF, sometimes he dilevered, sometimes not but his effort never lacked. Hey, were talking the greatest news anchor ever on Saturday Night Live, (over Chevy Chase) in MHO. At least on SNL he was working with other gifted commedians and brilliant writers, neither of which were anywhere near a production of MNF. I found his irreverence extremely refreshing in the MNF booth and on HBO. Great column, I appreciate the read. Thanks Fraze.

posted by skydivedad at 03:23 PM on December 26

I liked dennis miller before his role on mnf. But I thought he sounded forced in comparison to his normal stand up. Not to mention it seemed like a bit of desperation from the network. So I'm probaby a minority in that I wanted to like him but thought he didn't quite pull it off. But I think the article was dead on. Most fans were never going to give him a chance. I'm not so sure it wasn't doomed from the start.

posted by justgary at 03:40 PM on December 26

I stopped watching MNF when Dennis Miller got the job. Howard, Dandy Don, Frank, and Madden were all reputable. Dennis was a farce.

posted by mustang71 at 04:14 PM on December 26

I liked the idea. A smart guy who wasn't an ex-jock or a professional broadcast journalist, but who knew the ins & outs of the game and had something interesting to say. How they came up with his name made sense. It really did. I'd have at least brought him in for a listen, and maybe tried him out for a game or two, just to see how he'd go over. It could have worked really well with Miller, but there might have been some other comics who'd have done a better, or at least more immediately accessible, job with it. (Look at "Inside the NFL's" experiements with Wanda Sykes and Lewis Black. There's a place in the sporting landscape for that kind of thing, I think.) ABC was onto something, but now sports telecasts may never try again because of the perception that this is such a horrifying failure, like Lunkhead America might explode into anarchy if someone accidentally makes a Shakespeare reference during a two-minute drill.

posted by chicobangs at 04:15 PM on December 26

It's indeed unfortunate that people can be such philistines as to not appreciate Miller when he was beckoning his verbiage. I was normally in the position of having to explain to others what he had said, due to their lack of erudition. But today's child is not taught to speak the language as they once were, and therein lies the problem. Too many people don't believe that the word ask is not pronounced 'ax'. Countless thousands of children are not able to even spell (or use a dictionary to look up) the terminology that Dennis Miller would use. Unfortunate, but true.

posted by mrhockey at 06:06 PM on December 26

Bah - I hated him on MNF. He was just another in a long line of announcers that did everything except announce the game in front of them. The Madden-Miller team spent 95% of the time blathering about stuff totally unrelated to the game. If it wasn't "BOOM, den dis guy is out, and den BOOM..." it was "It looks like Missy's doing something a little different with the coif tonight, Al. A little flip in it like Watergate lawyer John Dean's wife Mo." ABC felt it necessary to publish "Annotated Miller," fer chrissakes.

posted by dusted at 07:03 PM on December 26

I don't know how much of that was "feeling it necessary" and how much was just playing along with the conceit.

posted by chicobangs at 07:41 PM on December 26

But today's child is not taught to speak the language as they once were, and therein lies the problem. "Today's child" wasn't the crowd that rejected Miller, therefore had nothing to do with his failure.

posted by justgary at 08:33 PM on December 26

Yesterday's child didn't talk like that either, babe. Course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

posted by chicobangs at 10:38 PM on December 26

There's more to speaking with eloquence than throwing together a bunch of obscure words and odd cultural references. When Dennis Miller whipped out his big dictionary on Monday Night Football, there were too many times it felt like he was dropping in prepared gags rather than responding to the moment. Frankly, I find Al Michaels tells a much richer story of the game than Miller ever did, and Michaels speaks off the cuff. Miller also said the most tasteless thing ever broadcast on MNF: His statement in 2000 that Jeff George had an arm "like a Manlicher-Carcano," a reference to the rifle that was used to kill President Kennedy.

posted by rcade at 12:04 PM on December 27

That's what I loved about him before he retired from being funny. The Off-White Album is like catnip to your middle-class intellgensia types like myself.

posted by yerfatma at 12:11 PM on December 27

Yeah, I gave him a chance and he really turned me off with the incessantly obscure references/jokes. I'd like to consider myself fairly knowledgable (and possessing a decent lexicon) but if I have to look up a word or the meaning behind a joke in the middle of a football game I'm calling for your head to roll. I'm no Madden or Theisman fan but Miller really just needed to tone/dumb it down a bit. I'm actually one for watching games, of any sport, on TV and listening to the radio broadcast simultaneously. It means the announcers actually "announce" the game and aren't stuck trying to fill dead air-time with meaningless "commentary."

posted by redsnare at 12:32 PM on December 27

yeah, i thought miller sucked on MNF. i agree that alot of his comments seemed planned. i consider myself to be reasinably intelligent, and i actually "got" most of his references...but i just didnt think the guy was funny. too political. not enough football talk. its like all this guy knows is politics. i dont think he could spew out football facts like he could useless political jargon. why does everyone think this guy is so funny?

posted by grizzay at 02:08 PM on December 27

Miller was the reason I stopped watching MNF.

posted by mustang71 at 02:35 PM on December 27

I completely agree with dusted. No matter how educated you are (Miller) or how educated you are not (Madden), please speak on the game that you are announcing. The announcing is supposed to add to the game, not distract from it. Is it really that hard to find someone that is actually interested in the game that they are announcing (despite how dreadful some of the MNF matchups have been)?

posted by bperk at 02:38 PM on December 27

One thing that has ALWAYS bothered me is the need of practically all people in sports broadcasting to be the next David Letterman. Every jackass ESPN puts in front of the camera on Sportscenter has to be 90 percent Henny Youngman, it seems. It's just weird that ABC actually brought a comedian in to be a witty guy on a sports telecast. I never cared for Miller on MNF, but I'll admit he had made many statements that made you think. The problem was, of course, a huge segment of their viewing audience had what amounted to a fourth-grade education (and those are the ones age 18 and over, not the actual fourth-graders watching the broadcasts). Miller was definitely better than Wanda Sykes on that other network, though. I wanted to punch that annoying bitch in the face.

posted by dyams at 09:05 PM on December 27

Miller was frequently interesting and funny, but he was a distraction from the games, not an enhancement to them.

posted by alumshubby at 05:24 AM on December 28

It's indeed unfortunate that people can be such philistines as to not appreciate Miller when he was beckoning his verbiage. I was normally in the position of having to explain to others what he had said, due to their lack of erudition. But today's child is not taught to speak the language as they once were, and therein lies the problem. Too many people don't believe that the word ask is not pronounced 'ax'. Countless thousands of children are not able to even spell (or use a dictionary to look up) the terminology that Dennis Miller would use. Unfortunate, but true. Whatever happened to KISS? (Keep it Simple Stupid) Who want to watch a football game with a dictionary at their side?

posted by panteeze at 06:15 AM on December 28

I love learning new stuff. If Miller or Madden or even (hypothetically) Shannon Sharpe or Paul Maguire drops knowledge that's new to me, hey, more's the good. Mocking the smart kids is so third grade recess.

posted by chicobangs at 09:52 AM on December 28

Miller's stand up is hard to follow too. I'm 23 and I feel like I have zero chance at catching some of the obscure trivia/pop culture stuff. Also, I tend to find that when I watch his stand up with other people they laugh too much, and I just know they didn't get the reference but are laughing anyway. Or I'm just bitter. Honestly, I feel like sometimes I'm a contestant on jeopardy more than I'm being told a joke. And I like jeopardy, which is probably more than you can say for most football fans. Sometimes awesome, usually annoying.

posted by chmurray at 10:25 AM on December 28

Whatever happened to KISS? (Keep it Simple Stupid) Who want to watch a football game with a dictionary at their side? Whatever happened to assuming your audience wasn't filled with idiots and mouthbreathers? Who wants to watch a football game when it's being analyzed by two semi-literate morons?

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:34 AM on December 28

Well, I had alot of hope for Miller on MNF, but he just did his best "Smarmy Jerk" charachter. 1) He didn't really talk football. He tried to sprinkle obscure references into the regular announcers commentary... So, not only was he not talking about the game, he was interrupting the people who were talking about the game. 2) His old-timey football references were forced like noone's buisness. They usually had very awkward lead-ins, and he spent the entire show looking for way to make that great Sammy Baugh reference he thought up on Thursday. Instead of coming off like an actual football fan, he tried to snow you with BS. Madden: "A run up the middle for 3 yards, it'll be 3rd and 2..." Miller: "I haven't seen a run like that since Weeb Eubank made Namath take off the panty hose. Have I said Bum Phillips yet??" 3) He had no chemistry with his boothmates, and spent his entire year being talked down to by Madden like he was a 5 year old child. "Wow, Weeb Eubank... You sure know your football 'lil fella..." (pat, pat) "OK, now let mommy and daddy call the game, OK??" That said, he was nowhere near as bad as Dick Vitale and/or Bill Walton in the last two years. At least he didn't spend all night talking about himself.

posted by LostInDaJungle at 11:32 AM on December 28

I don't think Miller is exactly one of the smart kids. His self- or pop-referential jokes make it sound like he's got a list of lines he's ticking off one by one, hoping they fit the situation or at least baffle us enough that we think there's something wrong with us for not picking up on it. I never thought he was particularly funny, or particularly good on TV. Though his knowledge of football is laughable. Maybe it's more an "at" than a "with" situation.

posted by Hugh Janus at 12:19 PM on December 28

His self- or pop-referential jokes make it sound like he's got a list of lines he's ticking off one by one That was the killer on MNF. None of it seemed off-the-cuff; it felt like a Choose Your Own Adventure script he had written the week previous (as suggested above by LIDJ). I loved Miller's stuff, but his very style requires it all to be written in advance. It was a nice idea, but a failed experiment.

posted by yerfatma at 12:57 PM on December 28

Dennis Miller never shared a booth with Madden. He worked two years with Michaels and Dan Fouts.

posted by rcade at 01:23 PM on December 28

Dennis Miller never got shot either. But did Dan Fouts?

posted by yerfatma at 02:36 PM on December 28

Dennis Miller never shared a booth with Madden. He worked two years with Michaels and Dan Fouts. You're right. Anything beyond last week gets all blended up in my little head. I'm not helping the anti-Miller cause look intelligent, am I?

posted by dusted at 07:03 PM on December 28

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