Chris Berman’s postgame NFL Primetime ramblings were the soundtrack of my childhood, man. But in Sunday night’s Super Bowl postgame, Berman stepped way outside of his expertise with his ponderings about the first showdown in Super Bowl history between black quarterbacks– and placed his foot squarely into his mouth. Before leading into a highlight of Super Bowl LVII, Berman highlighted Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes’ historic clash by fitting Abraham Lincoln’s birthday into the conversation. It didn’t come across as well as he imagined it would though.
The only positive thing you can say is that we’re lucky “once you go Black, you never go back” didn’t come to mind first. I’m going to assume Berman was speaking extemporaneously, before he bit into those highlights, because it’s worse if he was reading that off a teleprompter. I’d hope the operator saw that line coming and had the sense to try quickly scrolling past it.
More appropriate references were right there
Berman didn’t have to reach that far into his vacuous jar of historical references to find something profound to say. It’s already Black History Month. If he wanted to talk about how far we’ve come, Abe Lincoln isn’t the historical reference to go with there. Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, and Michael Vick were more appropriate comparisons. How about peering back at Warren Moon’s Edmonton Eskimos vs. JC Watts’ Ottawa Rough Riders in the 1981 Grey Bowl? In 1982, Moon edged out Conredge Holloway, who was also the first black SEC quarterback, in the 1982 Grey Cup. Each one of those figures’ influences did more for black quarterbacks than Lincoln.
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Secondly, it’s pretty presumptuous of him to assume Hurts and Mahomes are even descendants of slaves. Unless there’s a genealogy deep dive on them both that I missed, I’m not sure it’s wise to spout off about their family trees. This might shock people to hear, but there are millions of black folks in this country who don’t even have roots in the Antebellum South. Berman’s mouth got ahead of his brain on that downhill slope.
A decade ago, ESPN was already fielding complaints about Berman’s on-air performance.
Tom Jackson’s insights used to balance out Berman’s off–the–cuff analysis. Without that equilibrium, Berman is the emperor with no clothes. Speaking without thought gets him going viral for all the wrong reasons.
Berman had his run, but it’s 2023 now. ESPN keeps digging him back up every time they cut costs, but every time they do, he’s a little more decayed. ESPN holding onto Berman’s fossils like a comfort blanket while letting all their young talent slip away is a testament to how dynasties fall into ruin.
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