Monday, May 16, 2005

Meathead Chic: How Mike Golic Has Grunted His Way into a Broadcasting Career


Mike Golic's favorite word is "Yep." His favorite phrase is "Uh-huh." Ever the clever guy, he sometimes uses them interchangeably. In so doing, he has brought the world of sports broadcasting to a new low.

Golic is the sidekick to Mike Greenberg. They co-host the ESPN Radio early morning "drive-time" show, which is colloquially referred to as "The Mike and Mike Show." (How clever is that??) They also call themselves "Greenie and Golic." (Almost as clever, eh?) It's a living, breathing train wreck of a broadcast, primarily because Golic is a moron who has yet to utter an articulate phrase or offer an original thought.

Greenberg's okay. He's a Northwestern grad with a good listenable voice and solid credentials as an ESPN co-anchor, and he's articulate and quick on his verbal feet. He's not afraid to speak his mind, either, yet he knows how to marshal decorum in so doing.

Alas, it's gotten to the point where I can't listen anymore. Greenberg gets rolling on a topic, and every four words, Golic interjects with his incessant "Yep"s. Then he changes things up and says "Uh-huh" every fifth word. It's simply awful radio. In the occasional instance where Golic actually puts together an ungrammatical yet possibly decipherable sentence, there is not one whit of new thought. He essentially parrots what Greenberg has just said. Golic is also possessed of the insufferable habit of saying "And....and...and..." prior to his boneheaded comments. So a typical exchange might go like this:

Greenberg: Once again, we have George Steinbrenner...

Golic: Yep...

Greenberg: ...stirring up controversy...

Golic: Yep...

Greenberg: ...within his front office...

Golic: Uh-huh...

Greenberg: ...as the Yankees...

Golic: Uh-huh...

Greenberg: ...are off to their worst start in 18 years....

Golic: That's right. And, and, and...And once again, we see the Yankees faced with this potentially divisive [mispronounced and/or garbled] situation, where George Steinbrenner is stirring up his front office with comments... and, and, and...And here the Yankees are, off to their worst start in 18 years...

Ghastly stuff. Golic's the (arguably) lovable dope who somehow parlayed a mediocre NFL career into broadcasting bucks. It defies all explanation. If he were good-looking, maybe we could see how that works. But he's not. He's a goon. Yet he gets time on TV as well as radio. If he were intelligent, we would overlook the lack of telegeneity or the bull-in-a-china-shop radio voice. Yet he's incapable of initiating anything original or insightful. And if he were simply colorful, like Charles Barkley, then even then we might overlook his otherwise completely unbroadcasting-like profile. Alas, he's about as colorful as his on-the-field impact as a defensive tackle for bad Oilers and Eagles teams in the '80s and '90s.

Golic's career stats

It is somewhat of a modern miracle that Golic lasted eight NFL seasons. It took him that long to record all of 11.5 sacks. But earning a living as cannon fodder beats trying to do something that actually requires brains and skill. And for that, he's rewarded with moving up the ladder at ESPN. Do they have quotas now for sub-normal-intelligence behemoths of Slavic extraction? As Morgan Freeman said of the game of chess in "The Shawshank Redemption": "It's a total fuckin' mystery."

What I also can't imagine is how Greenberg puts up with it. If I was stuck in that radio booth for four hours a day, five days a week, with Golic, I'd slit my wrists. But maybe Greenberg likes where this situation puts him: completely in control and obviously the brains of the operation. It also gives him opportunity to put down the blue-collar sidekick--Golic is Pancho to Greenberg's Cisco Kid--when Meathead Mike gives his wife a humidifier for her birthday. Anything for a laugh, right?

But bottom line is that it's awful, awful radio. Whatever good Greenie does, Golic is there to immediately invalidate it. "Yup," "Nope," "Uh-huh" (and its counterpart, "Nuh-uh") are Golic's infernal calling cards. It's ugly stuff, I tell ya.

The ultimate message? Maybe that there are two paths into the modern world of high-profile big-bucks sports broadcasting: (1) attend a school like Northwestern and pray you have some connections when you get out; or (2) get your brains beaten in as an NFL defensive lineman for eight years, then let everyone think you have "street cred."

Thanks to Mike Golic, we have a new paradigm for the concept of "dumbed down." As for me, I'm tuning in NPR during a.m. "drive time." It might be a little boring and somewhat predictable, but at least it's not lethal.