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Dan Patrick made the "does not suck" list.

Czabe's list of ESPN personalities who do not suck


The problem with ESPN is that it is always on.

At least it is for us guys.

ESPN is without question, the single "go-to" channel on our remotes. Every night, before venturing out into our beloved 500-channel cable universe to forage for some entertainment, we almost always check in at ESPN - just to make sure, you know?

(For women, you may substitute "HGTV" as your go-to channel, since that seems to be the default for "Mrs. C." these days.)

So for a channel that is always on, and with men being the hyper-competitive, argument-starting sorts that we are, it's only natural that various ESPN personalities would start to grate on our nerves.

These talking heads are like roommates to us - messy, loud, inconsiderate roommates at times.

These are people we think we "know" all too well, whose shortcomings and idiosyncrasies are right out in the open night after night.

(Note that I put "know" in quotes. Because you and I really don't "know" anybody on TV or radio, unless we've actually met them and seen them away from the "on-air" light.

I often have people say to me, "You're nothing like you come off as being on the radio." To which I usually reply, "That's right. Because right now, we are not on the air." It would be like telling a buddy, "Hey, you were so polite at Bill's wedding. You sure weren't like that at his bachelor party.")

So the ESPN personalities that we often loathe with a passion, could, in reality, be the greatest guys you've ever met in person. You never know.

One should keep this in mind whenever somebody (me included) crushes an ESPN "head" harder than Rosie O'Donnell sitting on a pair of sunglasses. It's not the person we're crushing, it's the persona.

One enterprising Web site has taken the time to bracket a "Field of 64" to find out the most annoying ESPN personality of them all: bravesbeat.com/bravesjournal/bristol

I've read the entries, and they contain some fairly astute commentary. They also include some wild speculation and bitter personal bias. All in all, it's a pretty good list of who does indeed "suck" on the mighty intergalactic sports destroyer known as "Bristol 1," as a former co-worker called them.

So you don't need me piling on here. Instead, I thought I would create the first-ever definitive list of "ESPN Personalities Who Do Not Suck." I'm sure I'll get killed for some of these, but at least this list can serve as a beginning point toward a consensus opinion down the road.

Just remember, "don't hate, appreciate."

Dan Patrick: Putting his radio show entirely aside (since it's a totally different discussion) it's almost impossible to knock the smooth delivery and broad knowledge of ESPN's second best head of hair behind Mel Kiper, Jr. When Patrick is sitting on the desk of SportsCenter, you know it will be an intelligent, easy listen.

Scott Van Pelt: Perhaps he's a bit too smug for some, but I'm a big fan. He's also the best impressionist in the entire shop. The Steven A. Smith impersonation (Howevah! Howevah!) is so dead on, I almost cry. Too bad it seems management has put the kibosh on even good natured intramural ribbing by personalities. Useful shot, useful.

John Anderson: I wasn't a fan at first, but he's very consistent, and never puts himself ahead of the story.

Sal Palantonio: A reporter's reporter, Sal Pal really gets good NFL scoops in just about any city, but he's got his hometown of Philly wired. He's not afraid to interject a personal opinion or two in his reports, though his opinions are rarely overly strident or lecturing. Here's the facts, here's my opinion, I'm not here to shove it down your throat.

Chris Fowler: Does any host on the network prepare better, deliver smoother, or subjugate personal glory better than Fowler on College GameDay? There's a reason why that show is so tight, and it ain't Lee Corso building up to his donning of a mascot head at the end. It's Fowler.

Michael Wilbon: Its almost like black personalities on ESPN can only be bombastically "urban" or lifelessly homogenized. There's no middle ground on this, except Wilbon. Mike has an excellent feel for issues of race, but doesn't live his life while "keeping score." He manages to be cool without being a hip-hop slang parrot.

Bob Ryan: More writer than TV head, Ryan still delivers more intelligent opinions than anybody else on the network every time he opens his mouth. Even when I disagree with Ryan on something, I make sure to re-examine MY OWN opinion first, because I respect his that much.

Ron Jaworski: Does he seem like a nice guy on the air? That's because he's even nicer off the air. Jaws brings unassailable football knowledge to the air without a hint of narcissism. Notice how in the rare case where Jaws refers to his own playing days, the point is seldom about him or how good he was.

Mel Kiper, Jr.: Draft geek? No life? Mr. Know-It-All? Yes, yes, and yes. And what's your point? Unlike some "experts" on ESPN who are simply cashing in on limited name recognition, Kiper is a self-made man. He puts in the hours (and hours) to know what he knows, and rarely makes opinions on players personal in nature.

Jay Bilas:, A former D-1 college player with a law degree and the ability to make concise points on camera. He also talks to plenty of coaches and delivers game and program analysis that blows every other college hoop analyst in Bristol out of the water. Bonus points for being able to bury any "Duke bias" in his commentary.

Peter Gammons: This choice will no doubt draw the most fire from some of you, but here goes. I think Gammons can speak to a broad baseball audience at once, without speaking down to the more casual seamheads like me. While I'm sure he has an ego, it seldom consumes the point he's making. While Gammons is certainly no argument-ending "final answer" on baseball matters, you can't ignore his wealth of experience and contacts.

So there.... that's my list, for what it is worth. Eleven guys at ESPN, who almost certainly do not "suck." I'm sure that there are many others who could have made the "do not suck" list, but I wanted this to be a list that almost everybody can agree on.

Now you are free to let me know how much I suck. Thank you.

Talkbacks

OMCreader | Aug. 12, 2005 at 4:48 p.m. (report)

TDG said: Greg Anthony is excellent. If he's this good just a few years into the gig, he'll be tops soon.

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OMCreader | Aug. 2, 2005 at 7:21 p.m. (report)

Al Bundy said: I'm a "BIG" Sports Center guy and I thought your pick's were right on the money! But like you hinted around too, Dan Patrick's radio show blow's since Dibble was let go. But that's just my opinion and I'm no freakin genius! By the way, do have the real scoop on what happened there?

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OMCreader | Aug. 2, 2005 at 10:04 a.m. (report)

Scott said: Czabe- how about Greg Anthony - you mention Mike Wilbon as a black commentator not seduced by the hip-hop mantra - Greg is fluid and well versed on the NBA and if anyone saw his interview with Jermaine O'Neal after Jermaine used the "race card" regarding the proposed age limit in the NBA, he deserves to be listed with the afore mentioned folk. Anyone else feeling me on this?

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OMCreader | Aug. 2, 2005 at 8:09 a.m. (report)

Mikey said: Please take Mel Kiper Jr. off of the list and you are good to go.

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OMCreader | Aug. 1, 2005 at 9:29 p.m. (report)

chris p. said: please tell me the most hated list is being hammered out as i type. granted the list has to be twice as long but i'll wait.

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