We talked with famed sports announcer Joe Buck recently at the Television Critics Association (TCA) winter 2017 press tour about the return of his Audience Network series Undeniable With Joe Buck. The interview series may have flown under your radar, but it’s worth checking out. It’s reminiscent of Inside the Actors Studio, but with athletes. Over the course of an hourlong conversation, Buck is able to get even some of the hardest subjects, like Pete Rose and Dennis Rodman, to open up in pretty fascinating conversations. Undeniable begins its third season Feb. 15 on Audience Network.
It’s nice to see Buck in a different professional light, and displaying his interview skills, but, of course, most people know him from his play-by-play work over the past 20-plus years. Currently a Fox Sports broadcaster, Buck is part of the A team of announcers calling high-profile events, from the recent World Series to the upcoming Super Bowl. For his football coverage, Buck is teamed with former quarterback Troy Aikman.
Somehow, over the years, Buck and Aikman have gotten a reputation among some fans of practically every team involved in a game they have called as either being biased against that team, or biased in favor of the opposing team. Some fans have even gone so far as to create petitions and Facebook pages imploring FOX to not let Buck and Aikman host games involving their teams. As a Wisconsinite, and a fan of the Green Bay Packers, I have especially heard this among some of my fellow fans. I myself have never seen evidence of this perceived bias, though.
So when I spoke with Buck just a few days ahead of he and Aikman calling the NFL wild card game between the Packers and the New York Giants, I asked him why he thought this idea that he is biased has taken hold among certain sports fans.
“Because I’m there as the middle guy,” he said. “And I think in this day and age more than ever, it’s like if you’re not with us, you’re against us. It’s a shame, because it takes a little bit of the fun out of it. Troy and I both get it, and maybe Troy gets it because he’s actually been on the field beating the Packers before.
“For me, I go just as nuts about a Jordy Nelson touchdown as I would go about … whoever. Adam Thielen of the Vikings [for example]. But when they hear you get excited for Adam Thielen, they go, ‘Well, why’s he excited? That just beat my team.’ And you can’t do it any other way. Otherwise I’d be Wayne Larrivee. I’d be the Packer guy. Or I’d be whoever does the Vikings. So it’s kind of a weird space to live in, kind of being in the middle.
“I think when you look at it, the people that are really the biased ones are the ones that are claiming that you’re against their team. They care. They’re living and dying with every play. That said, there is no place on Earth that I would rather be than at Lambeau Field this Sunday at 3:30. That’s the honest-to-God’s truth. And Aikman’s the same way. That’s like football heaven. And fans care. I’m glad people care. It would be way worse if I did these games and people were like, ‘Who’s up there? Who’s that?’ I’ve done it for a long time so I’m sure I’ve said something along the way were they think, ‘Oh, he doesn’t like my team.’ I can tell you specifically in the case of the Packers, nothing could be further from the truth.”
Joe Buck returns for Season 3 of Undeniable With Joe Buck Feb. 15 on Audience Network.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call Super Bowl LI Feb. 5 on FOX.