This article was published Oct. 22, 2021, before the Ravens’ Week 7 matchup against the Bengals.
Longtime play-by-play man Greg Gumbel believes fans should appreciate great players who don’t play for their favorite teams … and uses a longtime rival of the Ravens as an example.
Gumbel, 75, has has been one of the top play-by-play voices for the NFL on CBS since the late ’90s. In 2001, Gumbel announced Super Bowl XXXV, which the Ravens won, 34-7, against the New York Giants. Throughout the years, Gumbel has announced scores of Ravens games and most recently was on play-by-play duty for the Ravens-Chargers game Oct. 17.
With generational talents like Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson on the field today, Gumbel believes fans should appreciate more than just the players on their teams, something he wished he had learned to do when he was growing up.
Gumbel thinks he learned the lesson of loving a sport too late in his life, though.
“It shouldn’t just be Baltimore fans who are appreciating [Jackson],” Gumbel said on Glenn Clark Radio Oct. 14. “I learned the lesson after I was a kid, but I spent my childhood in Chicago hating the Green Bay Packers during football season, hating the Boston Celtics in basketball season, hating the Montreal Canadiens in hockey and hating the New York Yankees. And then years later — my brother and I talked about this — it would have been nice to sit there in Comiskey Park and appreciate when Mickey Mantle came to the plate.”
Jackson has thrown for 77 touchdowns and rushed for 21 touchdowns in 52 career games. Jackson also has won the most games (35) in NFL history by a quarterback prior to turning 25.
“He’s only a quarter of the way into his fourth season and he’s coming up on a 100 total touchdowns in his career, which is mind-blowing,” Gumbel said.
The Ravens have morphed into one of the best teams in the AFC this year despite injury issues, moving to 5-1 after a 34-6 win against the Los Angeles Chargers.
While Jackson is excelling, another AFC North quarterback is seemingly on his way out in Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers play in Baltimore Jan. 9 in what could be the final game of Roethlisberger’s career.
Gumbel said he’d be surprised if some Ravens fans did not give Roethlisberger “an ovation on his way off the field” as a sign of appreciation for his career.
“It’s not just because he’s been an arch-enemy, but just for his contributions to the game and what he’s been able to accomplish,” Gumbel said. “Maybe not the greatest of his era — certainly one of the greatest — and what he has done for that Pittsburgh franchise is really nothing short of magnificent.”
However, many Ravens fans disagree with Gumbel, as can be seen in the replies to this tweet.
Still, Gumbel believes fans should give credit to players who have changed the game, offering Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady as another example.
“What Tom Brady is doing, you’re not ever going to see again,” Gumbel said. “When Tom is saying, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll play to 50,’ and you kind of go, ‘Maybe you won’t.’ But who are we to say, because he’s surprising most of us as it is right now.”
The sports we love are shaped by players who contribute their lives to the game. Gumbel says fans should appreciate these players even if they’re on a rival team.
“I think it’s such a waste to not sit there and appreciate the kind of talent that we all get to see every day,” Gumbel said, “and I would hope people would learn that a lot sooner.”
For more from Gumbel, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox