It’s time to kill these lazy comedic sports references

we're not funny nfl

we're not funny nfl

Sports and comedy don’t always have a comfortable marriage. As a rule, sports guys think they’re funnier than they really are and there’s one particular tool in the Sports Guy arsenal that I think needs to be melted down and buried. I could be talking about the incessant forced laughing that sports guys do to pump up all their bad attempts at jokes like on NFL pre-game shows. I could be talking about mis-guided skits wherein a former athlete dresses up like a woman for mild comedic effect. (I’m looking at you Larry Johnson.) I’ll save those for another day. Today I’m attacking the lazy reference.

A reference is really one of the lowest forms of comedy. Think about it. You aren’t actually saying anything funny. You’re merely trying to outsource the funny by referencing something that was once found to be universally humorous. Now, I may not be the funniest guy you know, but I think I know comedy. I don’t need to be Louis CK to decide which of his bits or TV episodes are funnier than others. I don’t have to be capable of producing Billy Madison to know — even on an expert level — at which point Adam Sandler started to lose his touch as a comedic actor and movie producer. It’s with that in mind that I think it’s time to retire the following references that sports guys use to try and be funny.

Suzyn Waldman “Goodness gracious!”

This is one of the funniest clips of all time to be sure as Suzyn Waldman’s thick Boston accent came flying out as she talked about Roger Clemens re-joining the Yankees in May of 2007. Jim Rome, Opie and Anthony and countless other radio hosts have spun pure radio gold out of this sound clip for years. I occasionally hear more casual references to it though and it doesn’t work. If you set the scene, play the clip and bask in the uncomfortability of it all, it’s a blast. When it’s sledgehammered into a conversation though, it doesn’t really work as a disjointed reference.

Allen Iverson’s infamous “Practice” rant

Yes, it was funny when it happened, but it’s over ten years old now. Allen Iverson was criticized by outgoing Philadelphia coach Larry Brown for his lack of practice on the heels of the 2001-02 Sixers being eliminated from the playoffs 3-2 by the Boston Celtics.

Jim Mora’s infamous “Playoffs” rant

This rant happened by then-Colts coach Jim Mora after a loss to the San Francisco 49ers on November 25, 2001. The team was 4-6 at the time and finished the year 6-10. This clip comes up every year in the NFL when any somewhat unlikely team shows up in one of those “Playoff Picture” graphics. Usually it’s a team on the periphery of a Wild Card. Someone will do a Mora impression, laughs will occur in the studio, but is it really funny?

Dennis Green’s “They are who we thought they were!”

This one is more recent having occurred in October of 2006 after Dennis Green’s Cards lost a 20-point lead to lose to the Bears on Monday Night Football. He was mad. It built like a crescendo and he exploded. It was really funny at the time, but now, instead of saying something truly funny on the air, a sports guy will work this into their conversation and just expect people to laugh as if they are Chris Rock.

Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man! I’m 40!”

Gundy went on a hysterical tirade in November of 2007. He started off saying that he was contacted by a “mother of children.” I can remember the uncontrollable giggles that gave me. Eventually Gundy loses his mind screaming “I’m a man! I’m forty!” which made everyone so happy that this guy had become the human embodiment of the Will Ferrell “Family Dinner” character who screamed about driving a Dodge Stratus on SNL. But as time has gone on, instead of still being a funny clip that gets played from time to time, we’re barraged with a lazy reference anytime someone turns forty year old in and around a sports radio or TV show.

Those are the ones that came to mind for me. I’m sure I missed a lot that you can give me in the comments. Just remember the next time you see those former NFL’ers yukking it up in the studio on an NFL pre-game show that just because they’re pumping each other with laughs, they aren’t funny when they make some lazy reference to something else that was funny once. Don’t be fooled. Demand better.

  • maxfnmloans

    Thank you for telling us what is funny. Whew! I was really not sure my sense of humor worked anymore.
    /sarcasm
    //or is it?
    ///is sarcastic sarcasm seriously serious?

  • mgbode

    Running jokes are the toughest ones to play. Done properly, the reference is an add-on effect rather than merely a reference. For instance, when the Browns were technically still in the playoff hunt last November, yet starting Jason Campbell. Someone glowingly talking about a possible playoff spot could easily be refuted with a “Playoffs?!” in Mora-voice to comedic effect.

    Randomly throwing out Locker/Mallett being drafted, wearing Brown’s helmets in Target, MKC as Tangled, JFF as Kaa are all done here.

    Then again, that’s not funny. Nothings funny to me.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2vTzHf2tus

  • Wow

    Jim Mora and Mike Gundy never get old, the others I can agree with.

  • mgbode

    Of all the bad things that Banner/Lombardi did to Cleveland sports, I think that killing Craig’s sport’s soul is the one for which I will never forgive them.

  • MrCleaveland

    Great topic, great article, Craig.

    Kenny Roda, are you paying attention?

  • Jeff Rich

    Can I nominate the Bart Scott “can’t wait!”? I like Bart Scott, and it’s like Craig said in the podcast about Siragusa, even though he was a Raven, but it bothers me that those words went viral. He couldn’t wait to lose to Pittsburgh? I think you have to back something like that up with a win, otherwise it carries the relevance of the end of Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tauYnVE6ykU

  • maxfnmloans

    see, I am now glad for Banner and Lombardi because they have led to my “rebirth”. I’m nowhere near as jaded as i once was. perhaps they were the “darkness before the dawn”. I sure hope so

  • nj0

    I love the promos with the studio guys smiling, laughing, and tossing the football playfully around. Wants to seem nonchalant and fun, but so obviously not. I want a gif of that.

  • nj0

    The ONLY thing they’re worth is getting clarification on if a fantasy player is actually going to play. But maybe that Tweeter thing usurped that role.

  • RGB

    Can we keep the “Have Another Donut”, Koharski rant?

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’ll always like the Iverson, Mora and Green rants.

  • dimoko

    as long as we can keep the scrip club

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HMA5YD0jsk

  • Denny
  • maxfnmloans

    I hated Don Koharski

  • maxfnmloans

    we can keep it only if its because you’re being rebellion

  • Harv 21

    Re the network shows, I think the issue is monkey-see/monkey-do programming and the paucity of actual talent.

    I find Charles Barkley genuinely enjoyable, because he’s uninhibited and pretty funny and sorta smart. He’s totally at ease on camera and there’s a whiff of unpredictability that makes him fun. The NBA show pairs him perfectly with Kenny Smith as straight man (and also at ease on camera), and they both actually listen to each other rather than to the camera, just like real people. But the NFL show producers seem to take the following formula for success from this: fans want gregarious, recognizable jocks and coaches who make at least one joke every 12 seconds. OK boys, so 1…2 … 3… Make a funny! Laugh louder! Interrupt each other – go at it! This is fun! Like Barkley.

    Michael Irvin is the prototype that shows they don’t get it – he has zero idea that he’s a buffoon. Tony Dungy is also wrong because he’s a misbegotten attempted over-correction for buffoonery – a personality for print media, with no relating to his studio partners. I’m guessing that a few guys – Marino comes to mind – are way more enjoyable over a beer, but when on-air Marino eyes the camera suspiciously whenever he’s ordered through his earpiece to look that way. Boomer is an insufferable pontificator, totally devoid of the necessary whimsy. Guessing if the NFL shows dropped their requirement for famous guys they could find their talent, chemistry and a much more palatable show. Because this stuff feels as stilted as a 6th grade play.

  • Harv 21

    diverting slightly to the substance of one clip, I just re-watched Iverson’s whole rant for the first time since he said it. And I feel him. Not my fav player but about the bravest, biggest-hearted guy I’ve ever watched. “Have you seen me play games? Do I leave it all out there?” Yep, you did. More than I can say for many recent Cavaliers who’ve never missed a practice.

  • mgbode

    Your rant is good and I’m gonna let you finish, but Boomer’s joke was the best of ALL TIME…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu8q3363qTk

  • saggy

    loved AI. dude was all heart.

  • saggy

    i went into the wormhole with the Jim Mora rant, and it led me to the end of the Iron Bowl and all the hilariously awesome reaction videos. Please do yourself a favor and watch the video with a divided family from the south:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V9RpRrPm18

  • saggy

    yeah, that Peyton Manning will NEVER get to a Super Bowl.

  • nj0

    I didn’t follow the NBA at all back then and just knew Iverson from the bad attitude, bad teammate narrative. Then I saw the ’04 Olympics. Memory is fuzzy, but I remember him giving it his all and people still ripping him a new one somehow.

  • mgbode

    People can say he had a bad attitude and that his ball hog tendencies hurt some of his teams all that they want.

    But, he was never a bad teammate and never gave less than everything he had. His teammates loved him.

    (that narrative always irked me to no end)

  • not_gravy

    Adverbs aren’t funny either, but there are always plenty in every Craig article / snark

  • Petefranklin

    Have another donut was aimed at Maple leaf coach and ex cop pat Burns. This came in the midsts of the LA / Tor conference final series that was one of the best of all time! Burns told King coach Barry Melrose to get a haircut and have another donut was aimed back at the overweight Burns.

  • Petefranklin

    This is a bit long but good, and there is a jamie koharski reference there too.https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=pviOhImDGMk

  • RGB

    Nope.
    This one from 1988. Classic…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXpcb5aTnPk

  • Petefranklin

    Wow, I guess Melrose copied schonfield. You could have won some $$$ off of me on that one!

  • Backwoods

    Same with me. I never saw an all-nba player willingly sacrifice himself that way. That 76ers team may be one of the worst teams to ever make it to the finals. He dragged that bunch, kicking and screaming all the way there.

    I heard he had just come from a friend’s funeral as well right before that interview which puts the importance of “practice” even more into view during that time.

  • WFNY_DP

    I always secretly thought that Boomer was all set to make that joke and then he forgot that Dan Marino was on the same show as him. You can see him pause when he makes the connection when he’s already too far down the road to turn back.

  • WFNY_DP

    That kid… oh so much denial. Love it.

  • WFNY_DP

    Just don’t tell me Simpsons references aren’t funny anymore, because then I’ll have nothing.

  • mgbode

    and, let’s not forget how funny it is for someone who also never won a SB and coincidentally never threw for more than 150yds in a playoff game to make that joke.

  • Backwoods

    That was my same reaction. He could have used his own name in that reference. Although not as many people know the legacy of Esiason as they do Marino, so it wouldn’t be as impactful.