Sports broadcasters have a tough job. However, when done right, a great TV or radio call can make an already great moment all the more special. So, here are five of my favorite football calls of all time. I am not going rank these in any order. They are all great.
Verne Lundquist Super Bowl XIII- “Bless his heart, he has got to be the sickest man in America.” With those words, Lundquist perfectly summed up the emotion behind Cowboys tight end Jackie Smith’s late game drop of a possible game-tying touchdown in Super Bowl XIII. This led to a quick avalanche of Steelers points and the third of four Super Bowl titles for Pittsburgh in the ‘70s. Sometimes, less is more. That is the case with Lundquist’s call here, which you can hear and watch below thanks to the Dan Charest YouTube channel. This raised his national profile too. He has called various college sports for almost 50 years at CBS.
Bill King “The Holy Roller”- This may be my favorite call ever. When the Raiders fumbled the ball forward and recovered in the end zone as time expired to win a road game against the Chargers in 1978, no one had ever seen anything like it. Everyone was speechless. Everyone except Raiders announcer Bill King that is. The way he describes this truly unique play is genius and also pretty funny. You can hear and see it below from the TVSnapFA YouTube channel. The play later became known as “The Holy Roller” and caused an entire section of the rulebook to be rewritten.
Gus Johnson “Right Place Right Time”- This will always be a special one for me, I was there. As a Cincinnati native, but lifelong Broncos fan, Broncos/Bengals games are huge deal for my family. I am a proud lone wolf. Things looked bleak for me in the 2009 opener, but the always alert Brandon Stokley saved the day by catching a deflected pass and taking it 87 yards for a stunning game winning score with less than 30 seconds left. Family bragging rights stayed with me. I was the only one that could be heard in the entire stadium. Obviously, I did not hear the TV call until later. I am not typically a fan of Gus Johnson’s over the top style, but it suits this moment perfectly. Watch it below from the NFL’s YouTube channel.
Joe Starkey “Owens Owens Owens”- Calls from local announcers have a slight majority on this list. There is just more emotion in their calls, for obvious reasons. Lundquist was the Cowboys announcer at the time of his masterpiece. Perhaps no call better sums up “homer” emotions than the one below from 49ers announcer Joe Starkey courtesy of the JoseUribe9 YouTube Channel. In the Wild Card playoff game following the 1998 season, Terrell Owens dropped almost everything thrown his way, until it really mattered. He caught a game winning touchdown from Hall of Famer Steve Young in quadruple coverage as time ran out. Starkey completely loses it. I mean that in a good way. You can hear him almost fighting back tears.
Al Michaels “He did what?”- Only someone as great as Al Michaels could take a game ending play as insane as this in a big game between rivals and perfectly sum up what everyone was thinking in a split second. “He did what?” was perfect for this. I swear the ball defied the laws of something here. There will never be another one quite like this. Watch it below thanks to the TheHolySC YouTube channel.
I hope you have enjoyed this look back at a few the best pictures ever painted on the gridiron.