Next week, Kevin Burkhardt officially debuts as the new No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer at Fox. He’ll work the biggest games. He’ll handle the NFC Championship. He’ll call two of the next three Super Bowls.
He’ll potentially become a social-media pin cushion. He realizes that it goes with the territory.
“[T]here’s always somebody who’s going to be sour no matter what I do,” Burkhardt told Jon Hoefling of Deadspin. “If they don’t like me, I don’t give a fuck. I can’t let it affect how I do my job.”
That’s the right attitude. It’s the only attitude he can have, if he wants to survive in that job.
“I think everybody’s angry about everything,” Burkhardt said. “Joe Buck is one of the greatest to ever do it, so I never understood the hate he got online. I mean, it’s a subjective business. I’m not naive. I know there are people that don’t like my style, maybe don’t like the way I call a game. That’s fine. You just hope that you do the game justice and you make it an enjoyable experience.”
In today’s world, anyone and everyone can grab a social-media megaphone. Howard Cosell, one of the greatest to ever do it, would have been relentlessly harassed on social media. And it would have been great to hear how he would have handled it. Because he definitely would have. Burkhardt has done so, preemptively.
“Look, everyone wants to be loved, right?” Burkhardt said. “That’s the goal, but at the same time if people on Twitter are going to criticize me then it’s like, ‘You try being on TV uncensored for three-and-a-half hours live.’ There’s no delete button. For everyone that says they could do it better, I don’t go into a hospital and critique a heart surgeon on his procedure. The odds are they can’t do it better.”
Not many of the trolls even try to claim they could do it better. That doesn’t stop them from complaining about the guy who is doing it. They want someone else doing it, so they can complain about the next one.
Starting next week, Burkhardt will be hearing about it. At some level, he should be happy about that. In today’s online world, only those who have little or no relevance have little or no online enemies.