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Monday Night Football commentary: Chris Berman is what you expect, Steve Young does pretty well

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Let’s take a look at that Monday Night Football ‘B’ crew.

One of the more interesting things about Monday Night Football wasn’t even the teams playing it, rather it was the two calling the game from the announcers’ booth. Being the second part of the double header, ESPN deployed the ‘B’ team of sorts having Chris Berman on play-by-play, and making his color commentary debut, San Francisco 49ers hall of fame quarterback Steve Young.

Berman was about what you’d expect. Personally, I enjoy listening to him just as long as he doesn’t get too obnoxious, which for me isn’t as often as a lot of you. I think the day he stops doing Monday Night Countdown it’s going to feel extremely weird.

Boomer’s most notable moment on Monday was giving 49ers linebacker Navarro Bowman a new nickname. Apparently, Bowman is now known as ‘The Police’. It was really odd. It came after he went thighmaster on an interception. I’ve got the call below:

“1st and 10 there, fake to Gurley and the ball tipped! And....picked off by San Francisco! The 49er defense is all over—and who do you think got it? The Police, Navarro Bowman is just all over it.”

It sounds more like sarcasm than an actual name. Like Berman was jokingly saying it was the actual police who got the ball. But if this is an attempt at a new call sign for the 49ers’ prized middle linebacker, I’m not sure if calling Bowman ‘The Police’ is something that will stick. If it is, we need sirens when he comes out of the tunnel, and the refs need to allow him to carry a nightstick.

Moving onto Steve Young, we didn’t really know what to expect. Typically, Young is on-hand as a pre-game, halftime, and post-game analyst for MNF, but he’s never been in the booth during the game for color commentary, as far as I know. The game started a bit rough for him as he had audio issues that had the crowd and on-field play dominate his voice, but once they got that figured out towards the end of the first quarter, he actually offered a lot of good information. For his first time broadcasting an NFL game, I’d say he did a really great job.

But he really wasn’t that good.

Young offered a lot of cool insight to quarterbacking and game-planning that I enjoyed listening to once I could hear him. The big problem though is something that’s not his fault: His voice. It was too soft and a bit raspy.

Now, I’m an idiot, and definitely not a judge of talent, but I do have a bit of insight. My father was an on-air sportscaster since he was 14 (yes, 14) and did it until his 30s when he went into advertising production. I’d always hear “the right voice” for radio/TV whenever we’d be watching a game. I held my own radio show for a few years as well and got beat over my head about how my voice sounded like a frog was eternally stuck in my throat.

If you listen to Jon Gruden, you can see what I’m talking about. He has an excited voice, but it’s got just the right sort of deep enunciation and (mostly) slow words per minute that you can hear everything. Same thing with Kate Scott. I was going off on her excellent broadcasts on KNBR because she had the perfect voice to be calling these games. Rarely can you wing something like this. Like many things it takes repetition to get the right tone and style and tone.

Young just didn’t have it. Sometimes he talked too fast, sometimes he’d take too long making a point with his commentary going past the snap of the next play (with Berman trying to catch things up), sometimes his voice was so soft you couldn’t hear anything with the crowd noise going on (which, at Levi’s is very strange).

That said, I’d love to hear more of Young. I think if you stuck him in a broadcast booth weekly he’d actually get the small issues down and would really be interesting to hear. I really like his style and the things he brings up during the game. His talk about the play calling and the drills quarterbacks do was really nice and despite his skepticism toward’s Chip Kelly’s offense, was frank and knew where to give credit where it was due. When the fourth quarter rolled around, he seemed a bit more relaxed and wasn’t talking fast and enunciating a lot better. The style he had is something you can’t train, but everything else I think could be fixed and I’d love hearing more of it.

So, how bout it? Do we want him doing color for more games?