These days, thanks to Internet-related information overload, football fans are more educated than ever. So why, exactly, do we need idiotic TV commentators telling us what we already know about how talented Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson are, or that the game all comes down to turnovers?
For those tired of inane NFL broadcasts, there's Footballz, a new online audio venture spearheaded by TD Sidell and Mac Carroll of the Cambridge/Somerville-based hip-hop outfit Big Digits. Footballz is a live-streaming alternate commentary track for Monday Night Football (available at lookatmelookatme.com/footballz.html) — delivered by Sidell and Carroll with some help from their producer, Ken Avery — that plays like Mystery Pigskin Theater 3000.
Footballz does offer some analysis, but primarily consists of jokes about players, ESPN's telecast, or other stuff that has little to do with game play. As they tell me when I drop by their headquarters — a Hail Mary pass from Porter Square — to sit in on their regular-season debut during this past Monday's Patriots-Bills game, they hope Footballz will appeal to a segment of the football-watching population who may feel a bit under-represented in today's mainstream sports-media landscape.
"I think there's a picture in the world of football fans as cavemen," says Sidell. "I'd like to think you can like football and not be a dick. Football fans are smart, and they want more than jokes from some ex-backup quarterback."
One aspect of the new role that the Footballz brain trust relishes is the ability to discuss topics that have become part of the sports landscape in the digital age, but that rarely get airtime during telecasts — the sometimes seedy personal lives of athletes.
"It used to be: watch the games and that's it," says Sidell of the need for in-depth analysis. "There was all this information that you didn't know. Now we know all this shit." As an example of what he's looking forward to discussing, he cites the 2002 incident in which future Pittsburgh and Green Bay running back Najeh Davenport allegedly broke into a woman's dorm room and defecated in her laundry basket. "Networks can't talk about this, but that's a void we hope to fill, because we can."
This past Monday, they actually did manage to provide some useful analysis of the game as it unfolded, such as an observation that Aaron Schobel tends to play well against the Patriots. But they were much funnier when the conversation related only tangentially to football, such as during their discussion of Tom Brady's (fictional) obsession with Stetson cologne. At one point, when Brady threw a few consecutive completions to Randy Moss, Carroll said the two were in sync like "two female roommates."
They got a good game to kick off with, too, as the Patriots came back to win in dramatic fashion. But even when on-field excitement is lacking, Footballz will have one consistent target: "One of the worst human beings on Earth, Hank Williams Jr."