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Why I like Johnny Miller

Here a couple of quotes from a lengthy article on Golf.com about NBC Golf analyst Johnny Miller

Says Maltbie, "We all have a filter that keeps us from cussing in front of our moms or the minister — not that Johnny would do that — but it's a filter he doesn't possess. If it's in his head, it's going to come out of his mouth." Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, says Miller is just like television's other JMs, John McEnroe and Joe Morgan. None of them has a governor," "You're getting them just the way they are."

Miller's colleagues might worry if they saw him pulling back on his preparation, but he still goes out early on broadcast days to take copious notes on the course setup. Before today's show, for instance, he drove out to the first green to see if an invisible pitch mark was really responsible for the four-foot putt Tiger Woods missed yesterday on the first playoff hole of his loss to Nick O'Hern.

I know, I know, some viewers can't stand him. There are personal aspects to liking or disliking any announcer. Yes, he's probably too quick to say a player "choked," and his sense of humor isn't as good as Faldo (who I also like). Yet, Miller has several attributes, highlighted above, important for being a good analyst, whether of sports or other areas:

  • Providing arms-length assessments drawn from insight and experience;
  • Willingness to collect, analyze, and be influenced by data;
  • Asking good good questions (See Johnny Miller -- Economist).

Announcers like Al Michaels, John Madden and a host of others act as little more than unpaid agents, at least for established players and coaches. In the "access v. candor" tradeoff faced by reporters and announcers, access does not matter much to me in sports settings. Players and coaches really don't reveal much in conversations with announcers. Miller's willingness to collect and use evidence sets him apart from the Billy Packers of the world who offer the "keys to success" and then interpret every element of the game through that preset filter.