Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to:
On TV, we hear players’ introductions in their own voice, telling us their name and college. However, a lot of them mention a high school instead. Why? For example, Fletcher Cox of the Eagles announced a high school, when he attended Mississippi State.
Farmer: There could be an array of reasons why a player gives a shout-out to his high school instead of his college, ranging from him being upset at his college for some reason, to wanting to give his high school a plug, to just wanting to be different or funny. But to get some background on the practice in general, I reached out to Fred Gaudelli, who produces “Sunday Night Football” for NBC and before that, “Monday Night Football” for ABC.
“When we started doing it, we’d tell guys to state their name and college,” Gaudelli said. “There were guys like Jared Allen who did his daycare center. There were people who did ‘home schooled.’ There were some guys who had a beef with their college when they left and decided to give their props to their high school, or maybe they had a better experience in high school. So we always let them use which school they wanted to reference. I remember Charles Woodson used to say, ‘Mr. Woodson. You know the school,’ when he was a young guy with the Raiders. I think Cris Carter was the first guy to say, ‘THE Ohio State University,’ then that caught on.”
Gaudelli credits legendary “Monday Night Football” producer Don Ohlmeyer with the idea and said it dates to the 1970s when players would jog up to a microphone and introduce themselves and name their school.
“I would say it’s the one element over the years that’s gotten nothing but positive feedback and acclaim,” Gaudelli said. “The whole idea is to take their helmets off and let people know what they look like and sound like. It’s been going on so long, now, when you get some of the rookies, they say, ‘Man, I’ve been waiting my whole career to do this.’ They grew up with it.”
With the way they bark out audibles and snap counts at the line of scrimmage, do quarterbacks have sore throats on Monday mornings?
Farmer: That stands to reason. Asked former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer about that. “Oh, yeah, I remember being hoarse,” he said. “Headaches, because you’re screaming at the top of your lungs. Go back through the Hall of Fame quarterbacks and tell me how many of them have soft-spoken voices. Very few. Marino, Kelly, Elway, Brady — Brady’s probably the highest-pitched of all of them, but he still has some girth to his voice. Steve Young. You go through all of them, and they all have deep, booming voices, because they’ve had to weaponize their voice, both for snap counts and for communication at the line of scrimmage.”