Jim Nantz is the friendly voice an entire generation has grown up with. Whether it’s the NFL, The Masters or March Madness, Jim Nantz is usually there narrating it all for us watching at home. But Nantz has a dark side, a side the media in Cleveland has unleashed thanks to their criticism of the hiring of V.P. of player personnel Mike Lombardi.
Nantz attacked the Cleveland media, calling their criticism of Lombardi “smarmy” and claimed they had “personal vendettas” against against the new V.P. For some reason, Nantz seemed to single out ESPNCleveland reporter Tony Grossi, but his scathing review of the local media was otherwise evenly venemous.
A few days after making the remarks, Nantz has backed off them a bit, but is still defending his buddy.
“Maybe I was speaking in broader terms, really, about just the overall climate in Cleveland. I’m not into attacking anybody in the media, ever, because I live in the same world,” Nantz said. “But I do think it has gone beyond the overall coverage . . . who are all these people who think they know more about football than Mike Lombardi?”
Nantz said that last week he was speaking with Bill Belichick when news came down that Lombardi had been hired in Cleveland. Nantz told the Akron Beacon Journal that Belichick stopped his Championship game preparation for five full minutes to talk about how much he respected Lombardi. This supported his claim in his radio interview that Belichick and Lombardi are two of the smartest people in football.
“If Bill Belichick had that to say about Mike Lombardi, we shouldn’t even have to go to the second sentence in this interview,” Nantz said. “That should be the greatest endorsement you could ever get from anybody in the league. If you’d want one guy in the league to make a testimonial about a guy’s ability, I think that would be the first guy you would go to. You’re not going to get Bill because Bill never does that, but he did it for Mike.”
Nantz said he has “no axe to grind” with Grossi or any of the members of the Cleveland media, rather that he was just defending his friend, and he’s got a right to do that. Some have claimed Lombardi has been the victim of backstabbing in the NFL, with others trying to block him from rising the ranks. PFT.com comes up with a good observation that supports this theory.
But consider this undeniable fact: Lombardi didn’t get an interview for any of the other six G.M. vacancies. Not even the Jets, who conducted a scorched-earth campaign to find someone who would take the job, brought him in for an interview.If that’s a product of Lombardi being a victim of backstabbers and politics, it’s a damn shame.
So it’s pretty understandable why Nantz would want to jump in front of a few bullets for his friend. Lombardi’s been supposedly held out of the NFL for a long time now, and the last thing his friends wanted to hear was that the local media had bailed on him before he even got a chance.