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For years, football fans have seen Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib torture their team’s offense. They may now see the Kansas product do something a little different on Sundays.
Talib joined Fox Sports as an NFL analyst last year and immediately became famous for his outspoken and unorthodox approach. That’s great news for Fox announcer Johnson, Gus, who will be on the air with the star defensive back this season.
Aqib Talib’s unique broadcasting style appeals to Gus Johnson.
Gus Johnson (L), a popular Fox Sports broadcaster, admires former NFL cornerback Aqib Talib’s broadcasting approach | Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images/Getty Images
The vast majority of conventional sports broadcasts operate on the same principle. A play-by-play announcer, one or two color commentators who are typically former players, and a sideline reporter or analyst who gives injury updates and insightful tidbits are all present.
When Talib, who turned 35 earlier this year, joined Fox in 2020, he stood out among most other NFL broadcast voices. He introduced a more conversational and casual style of speaking to the booth, which many found refreshing.
Others, on the other hand, were not happy with Talib’s shouting or colorful analysis of a play. Fortunately for the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback, his new teammate isn’t looking for too many changes this season.
Johnson told The Athletic that he admires Talib’s work and the value he provides to the broadcast. The experienced play-by-play announcer, on the other hand, is coaching his colleague and trying to improve his communication skills.
“We’ve already begun talking about some of the things he can improve in terms of diction and other things like that. But I don’t want to alter him in any way because I believe he’s ideal for me and Fox right now.”
In Week 1, Johnson and Talib did not call a game. On Sunday, Sept. 19, the pair will work a Week 2 game between the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings, along with sideline reporter Megan Olivi.
Anyone who has seen Tony Romo call an NFL game on CBS and gushed about how enthusiastic he is understands how much broadcasting is changing. There’s greater opportunity for exaggerated facial expressions and, as viewers will see, more gambling allusions.
Someone like Talib would not have lasted long on national television broadcasts a decade ago. He’s outspoken and honest, which may be controversial depending on the situation. Older viewers may prefer a more traditional presentation with recognizable hosts such as Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.
Last year, the advent of social media enabled Talib to go viral at times. He evaluated plays with the depth of a Pro Bowl cornerback and spoke freely about what was on his mind in a manner that he felt comfortable doing.
Talib told The Athletic that he wants to improve his “lingo” and the way he communicates his ideas.
“I want to get rid of the ‘man’s’ and ‘uh’s,” Talib said. “I want to improve my [enunciation], but I don’t want to alter who I am. When I hear myself on television, I think to myself, “Damn, where is my tongue when I utter these “S” words?” My accent is audible. As a result, only tiny areas will be cleaned.”
Johnson and Talib’s broadcast will be loud and bold.
When Johnson and Talib are on the air, we suggest wearing headphones rather than listening via the speakers if you’re watching NFL games on a mobile device.
For what it’s worth, that’s not a criticism of either. We can all agree that when a major play happens, both, particularly Johnson, tend to be loud and forget about their inner voices. For years, it’s what has made Johnson so beloved among football and basketball fans.
Who are we to protest when they’ve discovered something that works for them? If Johnson talked monotonously and relied on clichés, football fans would probably not tweet videos of his touchdown calls. He’s loud, but he’s proud of it, and it’s won him a devoted following.
If Talib reaches that stage, only time will tell. Johnson, it seems, wants to do all he can to make things work while still keeping his partner loyal and true to himself.
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