Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Honoring Jack Edwards

Can you believe it's been five years now since the USA's run to the World Cup quarterfinals? I wanted to take a moment to salute the man who gave us so many memorable moments and catch phrases throughout that cup, and during his entire tenure as play-by-play announcer. He's also the source of this blog's title. That man is Jack Edwards.

If you're a new US soccer fan and aren't familiar, then boy did you miss out (be sure to check point #4 below). He may have seemed corny at the time, but I really believe that 50 years from now we'll be listening to "mine eyes have seen the glory" and getting wistful.

Looking back, it's funny to think about all the criticism of Edwards compared to Dave O'Brien. Everybody complained all the time about Edwards, but I think I and most other fans would rather have him than O'Brien (Ty Keough sucked though). Edwards was and is a hockey guy first and foremost (he's currently doing Boston Bruins games), but he was incredibly passionate about the game. His style of announcing reflected that, and we could forgive his strange and untraditional terminology because we felt like he was on our side. That's a good thing; a US announcer should be a US fan as well. When it comes to O'Brien, he made far more basic mistakes and was much more prone to saying nonsensical things about the actual play.

Edwards certainly talked a lot though, probably again due to the hockey background. So how did he really compare to O'Brien? It's hard to judge things like that...or at least it will be until I get done with my new project, which is obsessive even by my standards. I'm going to make a transcript of the first games of the 2002 and 2006 World Cup, documenting every word that Edwards/Keough and O'Brien/Balboa had to say. Maybe the 1994 opener too if I feel like it. I've already done the Portugal game, which probably took three times the actual 90 minutes to write out (don't worry, I would've just wasted that time watching tv or something) and ended up being 29 pages in Word. When I do the Czech Republic game, I'll post both transcripts here and analyze the differences. I still need to get a copy of that game. I have one already, but it's not the ESPN2 broadcast.

Let's talk some more Edwards. There's four things you need to see:

1) The Jack & Ty shrine from Bigsoccer. One of the first-threads post-crash, replacing an older version that is now lost. Still awesome today.

2) I mentioned that Jack is now calling Bruins games. So it's incredibly satisfying and hilarious to see this thread on a hockey message board from March 2007 talking about his commentary, with virtually the same praise and complaints that he received from soccer fans.
Choice quote from a Bruins fan:

"I'm not a huge fan of Edwards -- the odd catch-phrases, the way he uses that excited tone when the opposition scores, talking too much, a bit awkward. But what I do really like about him is how he's a fan of the game."
3) "They're ----ing Portugal!" Surely the most misunderstood and debated sentence in the history of soccer broadcasting in this country. I'm reminded of Dave Chappelle and the Good Times lyric. Looking up some old posts, each of the following is offered up as the missing word:


Listening to it over and over again, to me it appeared to be "throbbing." Now of course that doesn't make sense, but that's what it sounds like.

However, I'm here to tell you that according to the man himself, the word he actually said (or was trying to say) was drubbing. This was posted three years ago by wjarrettc on a Bigsoccer post that got surprisingly little attention. He had the chance to ask Edwards the question personally and that was his response.

4) Finally, I have to do this service for all the Edwards fans. I have extracted a bunch of his famous catchphrases, zipped and uploaded them to Rapidshare (1.5 mb), and now you can download them to enjoy for years to come. Included are:

"climbs the ladder"
"shock the world"
"speed move"
"that's why he's here"
"torpedo header"

and more. There's 15 clips, and one bonus Ty Keough clip (HAV-OCK!) The one big one I missed was "full international." I'll probably include it eventually. I also would've liked to get "climbing the ladder" instead of "climbs the ladder," but that'll do for now. Enjoy.

Comments on "Honoring Jack Edwards"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:53 AM, June 19, 2007) : 

"I really believe that 50 years from now we'll be listening to "mine eyes have seen the glory" and getting wistful."

I think this will be one of those timeless sports quotes just like Al Michael's "Do you believe in miracles?" at the 1980 Olympics.

Both make me wistful...


Blogger Jarrett said ... (1:23 PM, June 19, 2007) : 

When I saw the title of this thread in my RSS reader I thought, "Man I've got to read this...I love Jack Edwards". Imagine my surprise when I was cited as a source in item 3!

Two of my favorite memories of listening to Jack call games...

1) The "Building is Shaking" when McBride scored in a qualie against Guatemala in RFK...here's a clip:

2) During a Chicago Fire match he was calling, Jack got pissed off at the wall failing to retire 10 yards yet again and he went on a huge rant about how stupid it was for referees to put up with it and ended up suggesting a solution that involved a can of spray paint and a bean bag on the referees part. :) Classic, classic Jack Edwards.

I do miss his calls for the national team games.


Anonymous tps said ... (1:39 PM, June 19, 2007) : 

Thank you for spilling the beans about where the blog's name came from. I was watching soccer in the Edwards era, but the phrase didn't stick with me. I've wondered who you were referring to since I started reading Climbing the Ladder.


Anonymous tfs said ... (4:01 PM, June 19, 2007) : 

I've been reading this blog lately and have really enjoyed it. I think it is an absolute shame that Jack Edwards is no longer the USMNT. He wasn't the most conventional announcer ever, but to me HE WAS American soccer. Part of my love for the 'Nats was not just watching a McBride, Jones or Beasley, but listening to Jack. You could always tell had an amazing passion for the team and knew the game. I'll never forget how he lost his voice 10 minutes into the Portugal game, how when Poland went up 3-0 he yelled 'IS THIS HOW IT ENDS?' and hundreds of his other calls. I would have loved to hear how he would have called the Italy game from the WC.

Dave O'Brien is awful. He doesn't understand or describe the game, doesn't have any passion and does not 'click' with me. By the end of the World Cup, I was watching Spanish TV instead. How is he above JP in the pecking order??

Keep up the good work and keep the Jack entries coming!


Blogger Tim Froh said ... (10:35 PM, June 26, 2007) : 

Oh Jack...so many beautiful memories. Of course, many of us ripped him at the time, but little did we know what lay in store. My all time favorite has to be the classic "That's Why He's Here" line (which I later turned into a t-shirt - "that's why I'm here"). Two other thoughts:

1. It always sounded like "drubbing" to me, but what do I know?

2. Ty Keough was clearly the worst part of those games. In fact, my complaints about Edwards probably really stemmed from an intense dislike for Ty.

Jarrett, thanks for the link


Anonymous pay per head service said ... (4:21 PM, January 26, 2013) : 

Amazing players should be in the memory of everybody to make the team accomplish something that it wasn't before. Thanks Jack.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:59 PM, May 25, 2013) : 

any chance you have a good link to those sound bites?


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