The Super Bowl makes legends of people who participate in it, and that isn't just limited to the field. The broadcast crews calling the game are at the top of their profession, providing steady voices to sort out the chaos on the field of play.
It's an elite group of broadcasters who can say they've been announcers for the Super Bowl. Great broadcast legends have lent their voices and insight to hundreds of millions of fans over the years. Here is a ranking of the greatest broadcast announcers for every Super Bowl.
Super Bowls worked: XXX, XXXII, XXXV, XXXVIII, XLI, XLIV, XLVII, 50
There’s no way to say it nicely: Phil Simms just isn’t that good. His analysis is basic at best, and he really doesn’t add too much in terms of insight. Not even his pairing with veteran Jim Nantz stopped the critics from coming after him, and last season Tony Romo replaced him in the Super Bowl booth for CBS. Simms has called eight Super Bowls, but his work on the mic leaves a lot to be desired.
Super Bowls worked: XXXIV
Oh, Boomer. You were paired with one of the greatest play-by-play announcers, and you still couldn’t make it work. Esiason and Al Michaels did not jell well, and as Michaels tells it in his memoirs, Esiason left the booth early during the Super Bowl that he was tasked to cover.
Super Bowls worked: XXX, XXXII
Maguire’s role as a color analyst didn’t last too long, and it’s not hard to see why. His elongated drawl wasn’t exactly an asset on broadcasts, and his laugh was more of a broadcast stopper. Those aren't exactly traits you want to experience in the biggest game of the year.
Super Bowls worked: IX, XI
Don Meredith was always good for a laugh, but that was really all he was good for. He tried to be his entertaining self, but without the support of his future "Monday Night Football" crew or Howard Cosell to bust on, he was a floundering man.
Super Bowls worked: XIII, XV
A former player himself, Brodie tried to stay away from asking the same inane questions he was asked when he was still strapping on the pads. So he asked questions about what was observable instead of digging for controversy. Some say that made him good; others thought it didn’t bring enough depth.
Super Bowls worked: XXII, XXV, XXIX
NFL fans had to take the good with the bad when it came to Dierdorf. He was a great analyst with excellent insight on line play, but he would go on tangents that Frank Gifford or Al Michaels had to stop in their tracks before he went off the rails. Still, his partnership with his two counterparts kept him balanced enough to work three Super Bowls.
Super Bowls worked: XXVII, XXVIII
Trumpy’s tenure as Super Bowl color commentator was short but historic. The former Cincinnati Bengal teamed up with Dick Enberg to be part of the first back-to-back Super Bowl coverage team on the same network when NBC outbid CBS and ABC by throwing down $40 million for the rights to the game.
Super Bowls worked: XXXV, XXXVIII
As good as Greg Gumbel is, his presence in the Super Bowl was one of the most forgettable. His creativity is limited, and his delivery is too calm for the peaks and valleys of a championship game. Getting paired with Phil Simms didn’t help, but working the Super Bowl didn’t do much to prove that he can carry a broadcast by himself.
Super Bowls worked: III
Kyle Rote called the famous Joe Namath Super Bowl but was dropped when NBC decided to go with Frank Gifford in its next turn up. Ouch.
Super Bowls worked: I
Paul Christman has the honor of being one of the first color commentators to call a Super Bowl, but his legacy at the big game was short. Unlike a lot of color analysts, Christman would try to predict what the next play would be in addition to analyzing the play before.
Super Bowls worked: I, III, V, VII, IX, XI, XIII
Gowdy’s prolific turn as the play-by-play announcer at the Super Bowl was impressive, but it had its flaws. He may have been a versatile broadcaster, but NBC had a hard time finding the right analyst to pair with him. While he was good, he wasn’t great enough to carry a broadcast on his own.
Super Bowls worked: I, II
We can’t exactly judge Whitaker’s Super Bowl broadcasting chops because Super Bowl I's and II’s television broadcasts have all been lost. But we know his body of work. He was one of the most versatile broadcasters of his time, and there’s no evidence to suggest that he would have been off his game for the biggest football game of the season.
Super Bowls worked: III, VII, IX
A lot of people credit John Madden for making football an understandable game, but many say Al DeRogatis was the first to pioneer that style of color commentary. Before replay would show anything, he would already be explaining what made the play before work or not work. He remains forgotten among the legends of broadcast, but he was one of the first to define the role of the color commentator.
Super Bowls worked: XXXIX, XLII, XLV, XLVIII, LI
Say what you will about Joe Buck, but his presence as Fox’s go-to play-by-play man is undeniable. His delivery was a little calm when he first started because of his baseball background, but he has gotten more animated as time has gone on. He could be better at painting scenes, but his description of the action is one of the best in the business.
Super Bowls worked: XXXIX, XLII, XLV, XLVIII, LI
What Buck lacks in terms of visualization, Troy Aikman makes up for in insight. The former Super Bowl-winning quarterback tracks players, numbers and performances, presenting an in-depth look at what a team or player is bringing to the field. He has called five Super Bowls and counting, and it doesn’t look like he’s stopping anytime soon.
Super Bowls worked: I, V, XIX, XXII, XXV, XXIX
Gifford’s low-key, calm delivery may have been too understated for the play-by-play, but he paired perfectly with Al Michaels and his more ramped-up tone. Gifford was one of the more versatile broadcasters, sitting in both positions in the booth and working the sideline in Super Bowls II and IV.
Super Bowls worked: IV
It’s surprising that Jack Buck called only one Super Bowl on television, but the legendary broadcaster still brought his iconic easy delivery that made him famous as a baseball announcer. Buck was on television just once for the big game, but he went on to call 17 Super Bowls on radio.
Super Bowls worked: I, II, VI, VIII
Before Pat Summerall became the perennial play-by-play man, he was the color commentator with Ray Scott in the driver seat. Scott wasn’t flashy, but his simple, minimalistic style garnered him enough respect to call four Super Bowls. Summerall eventually took over the play-by-play, but it was Scott who was the first voice of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowls worked: XIII, XV, XVII, XX, XXIII
Olsen may have been one of the brutes on the Fearsome Foursome with the Rams, but he was also one of the most intelligent NFL players of his era. He used that intellect to make the jump from the field to the booth and paired with Dick Enberg to form a perfect pair — Enberg calling the action and Olsen offering expert analysis. He would go on to star in television and become a great pitchman.
Super Bowls worked: X, XII, XIV
When Pat Summerall was asked who he wanted as his color commentator, Tom Brookshier was his first choice. The former Eagles player paired with Summerall to form the No. 1 NFL broadcast team at CBS. Brookshier was one of the first former players who made a career in the booth instead of being relegated to the sidelines. He may not have the reputation that John Madden had, but he was still a special analyst.
Super Bowls worked: XLI, XLIV, XLVII, 50, LIII
CBS’s current five-tool broadcaster is at the top of his game and just keeps getting better. Jim Nantz may have a calm delivery, but he knows just what to say and how to say it. There’s a reason he is in the same conversation with Al Michaels and Pat Summerall as among the best to wear the microphone.
Super Bowls worked: XXXIX, XLVI, XLIX, LII
Preparation, preparation, preparation. Cris Collinsworth treats every broadcast like he’s a coach scouting a team. His hard work has garnered him four Super Bowl appearances where his play analysis has rivaled that of John Madden. He’s hasn’t been at this long, but he is definitely deserving of a high ranking.
Super Bowls worked: XV, XVII, XX, XXIII, XXVII, XXVIII, XXX, XXXII
Nothing defined Enberg more than his signature, “Oh my!” His genuine excitement for big plays connected him with the audience and made him a legend at NBC. What is constantly overlooked is the parade of color commentators whom he not only worked with but also seamlessly incorporated into the show with little trouble. It’s that kind of flexibility that made him one of the most successful Super Bowl announcers ever.
Super Bowls worked: XXII, XXV, XXIX, XXXIV, XXXVII, XL, XLIII, XLVI, XLIX, LII
Al Michaels has been a Super Bowl regular across four different decades. After establishing himself as a big-time announcer at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980 and for Major League Baseball, Michaels made his way to the NFL where he has called "Sunday Night Football" games and 10 Super Bowls.
Super Bowls worked: XIV, XVI, XVIII, XXI, XXIV, XXVI, XXXI, XXXIII, XXXVI, XXXVII, XL, XLIII
It wasn’t enough that John Madden won a Super Bowl; he had to dominate in the broadcast booth as well. Madden worked 12 Super Bowl broadcasts with his signature enthusiasm and liberal use of onomatopoeia. Madden revolutionized the use of the telestrator to map out blocking schemes and route patterns to give fans an in-depth look at the game. No one brought people into the game more than Madden.
Super Bowls worked: II, IV, VI, VIII, X, XII, XIV, XVI, XVIII, XXI, XXIV, XXVI, XXXI, XXXIII, XXXVI
The man. The myth. The legend. When it comes to Super Bowl broadcasts, there is no one who stacks up to the Arkansas Razorback alumnus. Summerall called 15 Super Bowl broadcasts from the booth, becoming the standard for big-time NFL football.