I used to dislike Joe Buck.
Now I kind of love Joe Buck.
Lots of people don’t like professional sports broadcaster Joe Buck. I posited this question to the Overlords yesterday and got the responses you might imagine:
“Joe Buck sucks.”
“He was also born a month before midnight cowboy was released, which means he couldn’t even get being named after Voight’s character right.”
“He drives me up a wall.”
“Legit the worst. BUT I haven’t watched Brockmire in its entirety yet, so I WILL admit that could change.”
“One of the proudest moments of my life remains starting a “fuck joe buck” chant at the world series”
“Joe Buck sucks, Romo is a great announcer.”
“Come on, Joe Buck was great on Brockmire.”
“Just because the dude played a fun role doesn’t change his on air bullshittery for me. He’s so colorless and bland.”
I think that’s a fair response. Joe Buck does kind of suck. And also, he’s kind of awesome.
The divergence seems to only take shape if and when you’ve seen him be hysterical on Brockmire. Or at least be self-effacing in proximity to Hank Azaria being hysterical on Brockmire.
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick overview. Joe Buck is the son of famous sportscaster Jack Buck. He’s 6’1”, fifty years old and probably bench presses as much weight as a diminutive fourth grader. He is possibly the whitest thing to ever walk the earth. I imagine his blood is made of mayonnaise, interest-free loans and tiny golf bags. He is so white that milk drinks him.
He called his first NFL game at the age of 25. I’m guessing he got his start in the sportscasting biz through nepotism, but I can’t say for sure. Once he began talking over athletes playing sports and explaining why it was good, he gained a following for his clear, strong voice and down the middle takes. He brings a certain Midwestern sensibility to the booth, which basically means he’s generally inoffensive and drives 55 in a 55.
It also means that before you noticed Joe Buck, you may not have ever noticed Joe Buck.
I didn’t give a shit about Joseph Francis Buck until a certain fateful night in 2004 when he exploded into the mainstream consciousness by clutching his pearls and being a dowager countess over a simple end-zone celebration. Superstar Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss catches a touchdown in Green Bay, Wisconsin, home of the arch-rival Green Bay Packers. He mimes the act of mooning the fans and Joe Buck shits a potato.
That is a disgusting act.
Now, maybe that’s when the world changed and Lil’ Joe Buck was left behind, shaking his fist at the sky about the good old days before rap music made every white girl get a tramp stamp.
Joe Buck got ignored by a lot of us after that. I made fun of him mercilessly. My friends and I would yell “that is a disgusting act!” if a friend spilled a beer or owed us a dollar or some waitress brought the wrong food at a restaurant.
“Who had the Coke?”
“Um, it was actually a Diet Coke.”
“Oh, sorry I’ll be right back with that.”
“THAT IS A DISGUSTING ACT.”
Any minor transgression, any accidental omission was met with the profound judgment of the Buckest Joe of them all.
And for many, many years, as Joe Buck brought his personal brand of milquetoast sportscasting to the various worlds of baseball and football and golf, people dozed off to his somniferous voice.
The haters will tell you that he’s boring. That the highest highs of any sport are not reflected in the distant-idling-engine of Joe Buck’s voice.
I don’t follow baseball or golf and I tend to watch most football games on either the Red Zone Channel (no commercials or cutaways to the booth, and jumps from game to game) or in the NFL Gamepass App in condensed mode (no commercials, cutaways or filler of any kind) so thankfully I don’t even have to have a chance to weigh in.
But after many years of being the butt of fan hatred, a number of memes, having fans write petitions to ban Joe Buck from calling their team’s games because he hates their team, and generally monotoning his way through any number of magnificent feats of human strength and endurance, Joe Buck showed up on a little show on IFC called Brockmire.
A new side of the old fashioned, get off my lawn Joe Buck came to light. One where he’s aware of himself. One where he’s not the self-important, stick-up-his-ass, Caucasian Superhero dbag he appears to be. Someone with, shockingly, a lighter side. And, even better, he swears!
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Brockmire was great, as reported by my dear friend, the queen of all media Emily Chambers. (I also highly recommend enlisting on team Joel Church-Cooper because the jokes he wrote for that show were nothing short of poetry and showed a higher caliber level of comedy writing —> specifically the intricacies of joke crafting <— than you usually see.) And stunningly, a new Joe Buck began to emerge. Someone with a personality. Someone who wasn’t a human cardboard standee in the sound booth.
He even addressed the fabled Randy Moss call which got the ball rolling for part-time fans like me.
Sure, he defended it, and even doubled down, but hell, I heard him drop a few scripted F-bombs! How bad could he be?
So where do you fall in the Joe Buck maelstrom of loathing? On a scale from Skip Bayless to Howard Cosell, where is he in the world of trussed up, gelled n’ powdered mannequins who talk about other men doing great things on an athletic pitch? And in the eternal vernacular of the sporting world, would you, indeed, cross the street to piss on him if he was on fire?
Header Image Source: IFC