One of the worst kept secrets in local media was confirmed Wednesday when the Saints radio network named Zach Strief as the team’s play by play announcer.
Strief was chosen over several who have extensive play by play experience.
Joel Meyers, who does Pelicans TV, has broadcasted numerous NFL games, including network TV for NBC.
Sean Kelley is a fixture in the market, first doing radio play by play for Tulane football and basketball, and now play by play for Pelicans radio.
Todd Graffignini has decades of experience doing play by play for Tulane University.
Ken Trahan has done thousands of games, including Saints preseason, Zephyrs baseball, UNO baseball and basketball, and hundreds of high school games in everything from football to wrestling.
Mike Hoss, who does Saints sideline at the Superdome, and a former TV anchor, was also considered.
So, why was Strief chosen?
Simple. Because he is a member of the family. The Saints, especially head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis, trust Strief implicity.
And, that trust, as far as they are concerned negated Strief’s obvious lack of experience.
The Saints are a circle the wagons organization. You are either in the family, or you aren’t. Head coach Sean Payton joked at his press conference Wednesday that Strief “is now a member of the media and will be treated accordingly.”
However, Strief and Payton know better.
Play by play is a learned skill. And, no matter how many hours Strief has practiced, there is no substitute for live games. It is not unlike the NFL itself. That is work in preparation all week for four quarters on Sunday.
So, Strief will have growing pains. Trust me, it took me over 10 years in the business before I felt totally comfortable. I am just being honest.
I wish Zach Strief the best. As a player, he was always available to the local media, and never treated reporters like he was a cut above.
When ex-Saints return years later, I find myself gravitating to the guys who were pros when they were playing, not the players and coaches who suddenly found their “nice” pills after they retired.
Zach Strief is a pro.
In replacing Jim Henderson, the Saints and their radio network chose an in-house candidate alright, a guy who was on the field six months ago.