Much has been written about Don Meredith, the broadcaster who helped make Monday Night Football appointment television even for those who didn't like football. He was a character, no doubt, and someone who changed the way color commentators approached the game.
The thing that made the MNF crew so special was especially evident during a blowout. Today you'd turn off a game that wasn't competitive, but you'd hang in there till the final gun with the Monday Night Football crew. That's when Meredith and Howard Cosell would go off on hilarious tangents. Viewers loved it when Meredith could put Cosell and his wild vocabulary in his place.
Has there been a Don Meredith since? John Madden comes close, though his partner was the classy Pat Summerall (who had nothing in common with Cosell) and it was obvious the two were on the same page as former players.
What we have seen since the Meredith era is an endless parade of sportscasters who try to come up with that perfect schtick that sets someone apart. Chris Berman did it with his clever nicknames, but for the most part there's not a whole lot of originality out there. It's pretty much a homogenous mix.
While there are still characters out there (think Tony Siragusa, who could easily fit in during one of my family's Italian weddings), the common denominator is that these unique people are born, not made. You can't set out to become something you're not. You can't become a down home character like Meredith if you don't have that in your makeup.
While I often write that your work has to be unique, it also has to be you. Trying to be something you're not is obvious, and it doesn't work.