Commentator evaluation: Joe Tessitore

Rate Joe Tessitore as an NFL play-by-play commentator:

  • 5 stars - the best (or jointly the best) in the business at what he does

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • 4.5 stars

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4 stars - very good at what he does, but a notch below the very best

    Votes: 1 1.1%
  • 3.5 stars

    Votes: 4 4.3%
  • 3 stars - about average; competent, but not much more than that

    Votes: 18 19.4%
  • 2.5 stars

    Votes: 21 22.6%
  • 2 stars - substandard; lucky to still be making a living at this

    Votes: 22 23.7%
  • 1.5 stars

    Votes: 12 12.9%
  • 1 star - should be fired tomorrow for gross incompetence

    Votes: 13 14.0%
  • No opinion (don't know him or his work)

    Votes: 1 1.1%

  • Total voters
    93
Well, given the lack of opinions around Kevin Burkhardt, let me quickly change tack and open a new thread which I suspect is likely to draw rather more comments and votes. Joe Tessitore is in his second year as the Monday Night Football commentator for ESPN, having served as college football commentator with at least some distinction and also worked as a boxing and college basketball commentator. I suspect very few of you will know him for his basketball and/or boxing work, though, so I suspect most people will evaluate him on his NFL work.

Without trying to predetermine the results here, I suspect that the results will largely be negative, although a) I'm keen to hear from Tessitore's defenders, if there are any, and b) I wonder how much negativity around his performance is due to him being promoted too far too quickly, rather than his commentary as such. Because he seemed a perfectly fine second-tier college commentator, at least to the point that I don't remember thinking badly of him, before he got the MNF gig. Anyway, I'll let everyone else take it from here...
 

luckiestman

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Jul 15, 2005
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Simmons had such a funny impersonation of Tess towards the end of the Guess the Lines pod this week.

I gave him a 2.5. The best thing I can say about him is that I dont have to mute him. Witten and Tess was mute city.
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
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I also went with 2.5. He doesn't impress me at all, but I don't think he is THAT bad, like some other posters have said in the game threads. I will say I don't normally watch MNF if the Pats aren't playing in it, so my exposure is fairly limited.
 

TheRooster

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Aug 3, 2001
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Find him to be absolutely awful. I've changed the channel twice in recent weeks to get away from him. Amateurish and phony.
 

Nator

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2.5 here. He just needs to calm down and let the action on the field speak for itself. If he can tone it down a bit, he's got the pipes to be a great PBP man, but Jesus he is insufferable sometimes.
 

glennhoffmania

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He's bad but not the worst. But for MNF he and Booger are a joke. This shouldn't be the best the worldwide leader can do.
 

Vinho Tinto

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He’s better when calling boxing, but he should not be the lead announcer for MNF. That he is shows how much the game has been devalued by ABC and the league since NBC took over Sunday night.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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He seems like he does his homework and pays attention to the league which is good, but his goddamn over-emoting on every 8 yard pass is an absolute deal breaker.
 

Cotillion

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Ehhh… he's pretty non-offensive to me. He's not the worst, but he's not really above replacement level. Solid C student.
 

Byrdbrain

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I have very little opinion on announcers generally, I am much more interested in what the analysts say.
Just give me the basic info and I’m fine.

I make an exception for Tessitore, his forced ridiculous excitement drives me crazy. I mute MNF because of him.

In case you couldn’t tell I voted 1.
 

Mystic Merlin

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He’s competent but his literally PERPETUAL enthusiasm and his aversion to really calling out officials is grating. It’s exhausting to listen to that booth. They never shut up or modulate tone/energy except in true blowout games. It’s all MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL all the time.

EDIT - He also has a peevish habit of passing off things he read or heard from coaches, players and local team media as his own observations. I think those bits of color (e.g. coaches think this guy is really coming on) can be great for viewers not steeped in a particular team’s workings, but give me a source. I know Tess ain’t crunching the All-22, after all.
 
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Mugsy's Jock

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I reckon my 3-star vote will be higher than most. I'm trying not to penalize Tessitore for his terrible color man, nor for the generally subpar nature of ESPN's production. He has a perfectly listenable voice, although he gets excited probably a little more than is warranted. He doesn't bring any insight to speak of, but that really ought to be getting supplied by his color man. He doesn't try to be funny or deep, he's perfectly fine at following the action and giving down and distance. Cromulent.
 

Dick Pole Upside

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2.5 here. He just needs to calm down and let the action on the field speak for itself. If he can tone it down a bit, he's got the pipes to be a great PBP man, but Jesus he is insufferable sometimes.
He's bad but not the worst. But for MNF he and Booger are a joke. This shouldn't be the best the worldwide leader can do.
He seems like he does his homework and pays attention to the league which is good, but his goddamn over-emoting on every 8 yard pass is an absolute deal breaker.
I make an exception for Tessitore, his forced ridiculous excitement drives me crazy. I mute MNF because of him.
2.5. Bolded comments sum it up for me. He works better on college football (amateurish? heh.) because he’s yelling and screaming about kids and who cares if he gets carried away... they’re just boys.

But for professionals? Uh, no.
 

EvilEmpire

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2.5 now, but I think he'll improve over time. I can see him peaking at 3.5 in a few years once he calms down. A better partner would probably help.
 

StuckOnYouk

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Agreed he did a good job with boxing but I'm still not used to the NFL stuff, especially compared to McDonough who I think is outstanding at everything he touches.

Tessitore was in Hartford when the Whalers were here and he went down in infamy asking Gretzky before or after a game "Who is Wayne Gretzky"?. The look on Gretzky's face was priceless and he caught a lot of flak around here for it. But good for him getting this far I guess.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Agree with EE that he was probably a 1.5 for me last year (when I read this article before the 2018 season I was not optimistic! https://www.theringer.com/2018/8/16/17701680/joe-tessitore-espn-nfl-monday-night-football), but he's up to a 2.5 this year. And he'll probably be average for me at some point in the future. Tessitore is the corny even more optimist version of Gus Johnson. He's the guy who shows up at a random playground basketball game and shouts words of encouragement; sometimes well received but then in Rucker Park the record player skips and he gets puzzled looks from the players.
 

DeadlySplitter

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went 2. he's not horrible but he gets wound up in cliches and his hyped voice on big plays grates me
 

Vandalman

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I think he has a fine voice and a good delivery. Unfortunately, he doesn't pair up well with Boog (who would?) so that's a bit detracting. I give him a 3.5.
 

gingerbreadmann

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John Teti at the AV Club had a wonderful writeup of the whole MNF production a few weeks ago. I think he nails Tessitore (whole thing is worth a read):

Tessitore honors the Monday Night legend with zeal. He pretends harder than anyone else. Last season’s Chiefs-Rams game was an electric 54-51 thriller that ranks among the best regular-season contests ever, and Tessitore did the play-by-play. Here is a game that an announcer would dream of, one where the action on the field provides all the material you could need. All he had to do was call the plays.

Yet even as a gripping back-and-forth fourth quarter unfolded, Tessitore kept retreating from the moment and reverting to empty storylines—the “hype” that was being validated, the “energy” in the stadium before kickoff, and above all the Monday Night history being made. As the total points on the scoreboard neared an all-time NFL record, Tessitore said that viewers could “forget the conversation of highest-scoring Monday Night Football game of all time,” a conversation nobody but Tessitore was having.

Tessitore is dedicated to huffing and puffing on the embers of Monday Night’s aura, and that is a big part of why he has his job. His misguided desperation to inflate small moments is an echo of Monday Night’s general desperation to seem bigger than it is. His schmaltz is a salve for the show’s deepest insecurities. Without him, Monday Night Football might have to stop pretending.
Not a fan.
 

mauf

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I said 3 stars, because I’m completely indifferent to Tessitore. I don’t notice him at all when he calls games. I prefer my PBP announcers in the mode of Pat Summerall, but I don’t find Tessitore’s surfeit of enthusiasm more annoying than anyone else’s.

Being on ESPN is probably an advantage, as I don’t have to listen to Tessitore feign excitement about stupid TV dramas that I’ll never watch.
 

luckiestman

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Of all the opinions one might have about Tessitore, I think I find this one to be the most extraordinary. (If there's one thing Tessitore wants to you to do when he's commentating, it's to notice him.)
I also find it weird. The Book of Eli shit on Monday was awful.
 

Marciano490

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I also find it weird. The Book of Eli shit on Monday was awful.
What're you gonna not repeatedly reference a decades-old, moderately successful movie with the same name in it as the career .500 quarterback starting for the 2-10 team featured on MNF?
 

Humphrey

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If he would stop making slightly better than average plays into "Havlicek Stole The Ball's" he'd be fine.

At least Witten and, as a result, the Boogermobile, is gone.
 

Diamond Don Aase

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Whoever gave Tessitore 5 stars, I'd be very interested to hear your opinions as to why.
Or 3.5, for that matter. Tessitore is terrible. The league has made Monday Night Football unwatchable. Tessitore has made it unlistenable. Even the most mundane series leaves me feeling like I just bought a used car whose windows won't roll down the first time the temperature drops below 35.
 
Jul 18, 2019
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I gave Tessitore a 3.5 solely because I watch more college football than pro football and Tessitore’s excitability worked better there and I thought it made the game better. I like announcers to sound like they’re enjoying the sport they’re announcing but with that said Tessitore has been brutal on MNF.
 

Marciano490

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I was ragging on him in the thread, but Tess is really terrible. He tries sooooo hard to speak in these cutesy headlines and they’re all just so tortured. Like William Wallace thinks they’re tortured.

It all just comes off as so lame and self-important.

Actually, that’s my question for @Conigliaro's Potential - are a lot of play by play guys arrogant? Is it like being a politician, where you usually need some measure of narcissism to want to have millions of people hear you talk. You seem cool and grounded, but a lot of football pbp guys seem unduly cocky and proud of themselves. Like moreso than the pro athletes they’re paired with. It’s an odd dynamic.
 
Actually, that’s my question for @Conigliaro's Potential - are a lot of play by play guys arrogant? Is it like being a politician, where you usually need some measure of narcissism to want to have millions of people hear you talk. You seem cool and grounded, but a lot of football pbp guys seem unduly cocky and proud of themselves. Like moreso than the pro athletes they’re paired with. It’s an odd dynamic.
I can't really speak to this - I don't know many high-profile play-by-play guys personally, although I would say that from my encounters with Sean McDonough, he doesn't seem arrogant at all. I don't think it's any different than actors: you have to be wired in a certain way to want to and be able to perform in front of loads of people, but not all actors are arrogant.