The League

Peter Schaffer
NFL Agent

Peter Schaffer

Agent and professor of sports law

Facenda Still God


"Through the chill of December the early winter moans... but it's that January wind that rattles old bones."

- John Facenda

The unfortunate and untimely passing of the ambassador of words, the "Voice of the People," Harry Kalas provides fans the motivation and opportunity to reflect on his talents, genius, passion and contributions to our NFL society. Anyone who grew up listening to Mr. Kalas feels today that a sense of their youth has been lost.

Kalas's immense talents were unmistakable. His voice was distinct and unique, his contributions to the enjoyment of watching baseball and football games were second to none. Kalas's familiar home run call: "Swing... and a long drive, watch this baby, outta here! Home run [insert player's name here]" is as legendary as was his work on NFL Film productions.

Despite that, with no disrespect to Mr. Kalas, the true voice of the NFL is another Philadelphia product named John Facenda.

Facenda was known by many NFL fans as "The Voice of God" and perhaps his stature as the greatest ever is cemented by the fact that he was the first of the great ones at what he did. We always remember the first as being the best. Babe Ruth over Hank Aaron, Gordie Howe over Wayne Gretsky, Jim Brown over Barry Sanders, Gary Gait over Mike Powell, Joe Louis over Mohamed Ali, Wilt Chamberlain over Kareem Abdul Jabbar etc.

The reality is that Facenda will always be the best when it comes to football, there will be other great ones that will follow, and Kalas certainly is in that category along with Marv Albert, Al Michaels, Pat Sumerall, Dick Endberg, Curt Gowdy, Marty Glickman and Chris Berman. No disrespect to the great sports announcers as Bob Costas, Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Lindsey Nelson, Keith Jackson, Ernie Harwell, Jim McKay, Johnny Most, Howard Cosell (note I did not list him as a great football announcer), Red Barber, Harry Caray, Dick Vitale, and Tim McCarver.

The criteria for being the best in this field must encompass certain qualities such as uniqueness, innovation, longevity, creation of memorable moments, number of people who emulate him, ease to which you can listen to him and, most importantly, adding value to the entertainment of the broadcast.

Facenda had it all. His speaking style is frequently emulated, often in a parody, in contemporary sports news and advertising, and to this day remains the sound most closely linked with the NFL and NFL Films. Facenda's voice is so closely associated with the pro football that his son had to file a lawsuit against the NFL, claiming that his voice was used without permission in an NFL Network program promoting the vastly popular Madden 2006 video game. Facenda set the bar so high that while others will try to emulate and surpass him, they never will.

Facenda's famous quotes such as "Excitement electrifies us, victory spikes the air, all sights are set on one glittering goal... the chance to play and win in the Super Bowl." And "Woe to he who goes against the charge of the oncoming lineman beware the drive block, the forearm shiver... it's one ton of muscle with a one track mind" remind us of the NFL, of Mr. Facenda, and how much we love both.

We have missed Mr. Facenda since his untimely death and we will certainly miss Mr. Kalas and offer our sincere and deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans.

But when it comes to the greatest of all time at what they did, the nod, with no disrespect, must go to the voice of God, John Facenda.

By Peter Schaffer  |  April 14, 2009; 2:19 AM ET  | Category:  NFL , Peter Schaffer Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Harry the K, Philly's treasure first | Next: We Miss You Harry


Please email us to report offensive comments.

No disrespect but SHUT UP. This is no time to let everyone know you are a TV expert who knows John Facenda is better than Harry Kalas. I worked at WCAU where Facenda roamed the halls, so I know his legacy and worked with those who have shared his stories. Your article just points out how self-absorbed we are with seeing our blogs and patting ourselves on the back for being so "with it" and smart. Harry was NONE of that. No pretense, no ego, no "look at me" attitude. Harry would be the first to shoot down any comparison to should to.

Posted by: wxcbs | April 14, 2009 2:36 PM

What in the world is this supposed to be? The subject was the passing of Harry Kalas, I thought.

Yes, we were lucky to be entertained by these two incomparable gentlemen from Philadelphia. But no one is ranking one over the other.

We get it, you venerate John Facenda; so do many others. But have the good grace to allow Harry to be mourned and missed by his many fans, please. We also mourned John Facenda as well. I could have done without your personal opinions at this time.

Posted by: chelseafran | April 14, 2009 3:25 PM

Also, does anyone really need to bring up the point about how good Facenda was? And, did anyone say Harry was better than John? Ludicrous.

Posted by: wxcbs | April 14, 2009 7:46 PM

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