Green Bay Packers fans hate Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Here's why time won't heal these wounds.
Editor's note: This story was originally published Jan. 13, 2017. Buck and Aikman will call the Green Bay Packers' NFL divisional round playoff game on Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers.
GREEN BAY - Joe Buck didn't push your grandmother down a flight of stairs, hack Democratic National Committee emails or put ketchup on his brat.
It's far worse. He announces Green Bay Packers football games for Fox Sports, as he and his longtime color man Troy Aikman will do Saturday from Lambeau Field. The duo was the target of an online petition addressed, rather optimistically, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, asking that they be banned from announcing Packers games, preferably starting immediately.
"I'm signing this petition because the sound of Joe Buck's voice makes me want to punch babies and kittens," and "I get so annoyed when one of them talks. As if my brain cells are committing suicide," wrote two petition signers who are not outliers in this discussion.
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, they will be there for kickoff. Not everyone will listen.
"I don't listen to them anymore," Andy Gussert of De Forest said. "My friends don't either. We'd rather listen on the radio, even if they don't sync."
Buck is not unaware, and sorry to say, Packers fans, you're not alone in your hatred. His Twitter profile states, "I love all teams EXCEPT yours."
People have theories on why Buck and Aikman are so despised, or just Buck and not Aikman, or just Aikman and not Buck. (Or Cris Collinsworth, but let's not go there). Most petition signers offer little in the way of specifics, and many seem to type the wrong first letter when spelling Buck.
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Some, while specific, were "heads I win, tails you lose" head-scratchers. One signer said, "Joe Buck never played a down of football and thinks he's an expert ... and Troy is just another ex jock that tries to sound important."
But there were some thoughtful signers.
Marcia Van Gorden, a grandmother and Packers fan living in Minneapolis, gave an appropriately measured (i.e. grandmotherly) appraisal.
"Maybe I'm being sensitive, but it seems that in comparison to most other announcers, these two don't seem to provide equitable focus on both teams. That's in terms of the tone and what's verbally expressed. An announcer may have played for a particular team, but when it comes to his or her announcing job, that needs to be set aside," she said.
Don Tremby of Racine knows why "those two guys are lousy."
"I could tell specifically there was action going on and these guys were up there in the booth chattering about everything they were interested in instead of what was going on in this game. (Aikman) should be put in the bathroom and lock the doors."
Aikman more negative
Gussert traces it to when they started doing games and Aikman was, he thinks, more negative.
The hatred is not universal.
"Some Packer fans seem to have a problem with Troy Aikman, but I am not sure why," said Gary Getzin of Wausau. "Maybe it goes back to the Cowboys in the '90s, when they beat Green Bay most of the time. Aikman’s analysis as a former quarterback is usually pretty interesting to me. Joe Buck seems to be on top of things and meshes well with him."
Matthew Faulkner, a Packers fan in Milford, Delaware, agreed, preferring them to the other No. 1 network announcing teams.
"You know it's a big game when they are calling it. As an analyst, I appreciate Aikman's knowledge and experience — you always learn something whether it be about a particular play or scheme," he said. "You won't find a better play-by-play man than Buck in my opinion."
Buck likes the other team
In baseball, the only thing Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians fans could agree on was that Buck liked the other team better. And there's this tweet from @LionsMemes: "Can Joe Buck shut up about the Packers winning the NFC North, or can't he resist because he loves them so much?"
Granted, it was on a page called "Shut up Joe Buck," which guaranteed, shall we say, a certain kind of response.
Such profound hatred requires a professional appraisal. We offer two.
Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture at Syracuse University, suggested that if fans watched the game alone, they might come away with a different impression. When people are watching the game in groups, they tend to cheer and holler and engage with one another when their team does well, but pay more attention to announcers when things aren't going their way. As a result, they only hear the bad things about their team, or the good things about the other team, which is much the same thing.
Same for all announcers
It is a circumstance that applies to all national announcers, Thompson said.
"If they are doing their job, they are for the most part trying to be basically, usually objective," he said. "Which means half of what they say is going to be objected to by the supporters of either team."
Buck addressed being reviled by fans of just about every team when he talked to StewPod on Yahoo Sports and in an Esquire interview, before the 2017 World Series.
"It's kind of the world I live in," he said on the podcast. "Baseball fans in particular are used to hearing their hometown guys and the team announcers go all summer, and then we show up. The deck is kind of stacked against you. I have to play it down the middle."
Aikman defended himself that year to the Dallas Morning News. "I'm surprised they only came up with 25,000," he joked about the petition's signatures goal, before claiming the same level of disinterested interest in the game versus the teams.
"If you objectively and rationally look at the job these two do, each one has their own issues," Thompson said. "Aikman comes not totally prepared, but when it comes to strictly football, he's good. There might be some people that Joe Buck just rubs the wrong way. That seems to attach itself to Joe Buck."
Social media makes it worse
And let's face it, we're in an age when social media has an out-of-proportion effect. In other words, when people are of a mind to complain, they like to find other liked-minded complainers to commiserate with. Hello Twitter. Howdy Facebook.
"You can have these conversations turn into a critical mass within hours," Thompson said.
Ryan Martin, psychology chair at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, specializes in studying anger and what to do about it. He said all that social media sharing probably is not healthy.
"That kind of venting usually gets people more worked up than it does help," Martin said. "The more you invest personally in the outcome of a game, and the more you build your life up around it, the more angry you're going to get when things don't go your way."
Martin, by the way, grew up a Vikings fan, and was convinced Buck loved the Packers.
Buck and Aikman have been around so long, they have a teapot effect on even the most equitable fans. Eventually, steam has to escape.
So from Thompson comes these final comforting words: "Sincere, normal, not-crazy people can come to these conclusions."
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