Q: You were raised the the DC area, and faced with a monumental question growing up: Redskins or Colts?
A: Easy, Redskins. You were lucky to have season tickets in those days, and we did. I have great memories of going to games with my Dad. He’s gone now, but I will always remember those times. Funny thing is, he wasn’t a sports fan but he would take me. He drank beer and I found an atmosphere that I just fell in love with. I appreciate those times and what he did for me. He gave up a lot of Sundays and my favorite … Monday nights. Now, he would also take me to Colts games once or twice a year. I LOVED Bert Jones and remember making him take me to see the Bills because I had an OJ Jersey and loved the Juice. Oh, well.
Q: Sunday is an incredibly busy day for you as play-by-play voice of the Lions and Sports Director at FOX 2, with “Lions Gameday Live” hosting duties, can you walk us through your Sunday routine?
A: First let me say, I love it. Busy is good in our business, and I am truly blessed to do what I do. I get to the stadium about 9:15 AM (for a 1:00 PM kickoff). I head for our TV set where I do “Lions Gameday Live” on FOX 2 from 10:00-11:00 AM. Then I head for the radio booth to do our pre-game show, which starts for me around noon. We call the game and then afterwards, it’s a quick wrap and I head for the locker room where I put together a few things for “The Works.” Then, it’s usually dinner time. After I grab a bite, I will head back in to the TV studio for the 11:00 PM show. That ends at midnight, and then I head home. Little different for road games but Sunday’s are full, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Q: Now entering your 12th season as the play-by-play voice of the Lions, is there a game that tends to stick it to you more than others?
A: Man, does 2008 count as one? Playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Hail Mary last year against the Green Bay Packers. I told the Lions’ team doctor after the game that I was either having a panic attack or a heart attack. Thankfully, I survived, but that one was probably the most deflating, crushing, shocking losses I can remember.
Q: Lions General Manager Bob Quinn came in as a “Patriot Guy,” but after eight months is firmly entrenched as “The” Lions guy. What are your thoughts on his time so far?
He’s focused. He’s going to do it his way. He’s surrounded himself with people that are well-respected around the league. It’s funny, coincidentally right after he hired Kyle O’Brien away from the Jacksonville Jaguars, I was doing a playoff game with Tony Boselli on Westwood One. The first thing Tony does is tell me how hacked off he was that we had taken him away. Huge respect for Kyle, and his abilities. I loved hearing that. With a complete restructuring of everything in the front office led by Rod Wood and Bob, everybody is on notice. As players have said to me, the coaching staff may have remained but there is a different feel. I think the sense of urgency starts with Mrs. Ford, and goes through the organization. She has shown that she wants things to change, and she started implementing that last season. It’s hard to put into words, but Bob Quinn has an air about him that gives you confidence.
Q: The league has changed so much in your time on the job, most of all in the passing game. Passing records have been shattered across the board, but is this a cyclical trend, or the nature of how the game is called today?
I don’t know. I still think running the ball is huge. One team outside the top 20 in rushing last year made the playoffs. That was New England, and we know why and how they did that. Quarterbacks are better. More accurate. Passing games are designed to hit quickly and go for YAC (Yards After Catch). I think it’s still about balance. I think passing is fun and impressive; but in the end, I still think this game starts with an ability to run and stop the run. Create balance with the ball, and imbalance when they have it.
Q: Favorite road venue?
Lambeau Field is amazing. The people are great and the history is palpable. Dallas is just incredible. Our angle from the booth is ridiculously, bad but you can call the game off the screen. It’s a pretty awe-inspiring place.
Q: Favorite road city?
Might surprise you but I love Indianapolis. A nice dinner at St. Elmos and I am a happy guy. It’s a great, great city to hang out in. Hard to beat Chicago, too. One of the best parts of the gig is going to dinner on Saturday night with friends and co-workers. You name the city, and I will give you the restaurant. We’ve got a pretty good running list. I work with Brandy. We like to eat.
Q: Favorite Jim Brandstatter moment?
Too many. I love him. I won’t say what happened until my book comes out, but we had an “incident” on the bus in Arizona once. Just he and I, and I laughed so hard I almost had another incident if you get my drift. Just absolute uncontrollable laughter and tears running down my face. He’s truly one of the most enjoyable people I’ve ever met. I’m lucky to have him with me every week and frankly, I think Lions fans are lucky to have him too.