Saturday, August 25, 2007

Papa on the Mic | by Pat

Although announced back on August 7th, it slipped our notice (and the notice of most ND fans) that one half of NBC's game day crew was being replaced. According to this NBC press release, Tom Hammond will not be not be calling the Notre Dame - Georgia Tech game. Instead, Bob Papa, the play-by-play voice of the New York Giants, will work the game with regular Pat Haden.

Hammond will be in Japan when toe meets leather on September 1st, covering the IAAF World Championships in Osaka, as a run up to the Beijing Olympics. Sideline reporter Lewis Johnson is going with him. I originally thought Hammond and Johnson were just going to work this one event and then be back at Notre Dame in time for Michigan State. But if you keep reading the press release linked above, it mentions Papa on the broadcast for the MSU game as well. From what I can tell, there isn't another Olympic event during that time frame that NBC is covering, so maybe Hammond is gone from the Dome for good.

Replacing Lewis Johnson in the role of sideline reporter is Alex Flanagan, who works for the NFL Network and more recently worked the sideline of the Texas-Tech - Minnesota Insight bowl game. It's now her turn to ask softball questions at halftime that Charlie will answer sarcastically on his way to the locker room.

Back to Bob Papa. Notre Dame Football is the next distinguishment for Papa, who in addition to being the radio "voice of the Giants," has a glittering resume. He handles many broadcasting duties for Westwood One radio covering a variety of sports, including anchoring the Masters and the U.S. Open radio broadcasts, and doing play by play for the NCAA basketball tournament. He's the blow-by-blow ringside announcer for HBO Boxing. He's also got a long history with NBC, covering a variety of Olympic events for the network dating back to the '92 summer games, and handling the play by play for NBC's coverage of Arena Football.

Here's an audio clip of Bob Papa talking Giants football.

You know, I never thought Tom Hammond was a bad announcer. He was smooth and professional, and never embarrassed himself or Notre Dame. But there was something particularly bland about his play by play. You'd never know it was Notre Dame football judging by his tone and demeanor; he might as well have been covering Olympic figure skating. His style and manner exemplifies what he is: a network journeyman dutifully covering his assignment. Football, on the other hand, demands character and passion. We like our football coverage to be a little more Howard Cosell, and a little less network talking head. Hopefully Bob Papa will fit the bill.