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The Voice of Sports

Jim Nantz began his dream job as a sports commentator right out of college, and to this day is thrilled by The Masters, March Madness and his NFL broadcasts
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Jim Nantz, May/June 2011

(continued from page 1)

From there, it’s on to the tournament itself: 18 games in 30 days, beginning with four games in a single day and ending with both semifinal games of the Final Four and the NCAA championship game itself.

Which, for most broadcasters, would be plenty. But not the indefatigable Nantz: Within hours of crowning a new NCAA champion in Houston, he’ll land in Augusta, Georgia, to anchor CBS’s coverage of the Masters—his 26th time broadcasting from Augusta National.

Nantz has one of the most demanding and most prestigious jobs in all of sports broadcasting. Few commentators lead the coverage of two premiere events in two different sports on back-to-back weekends. That’s not to mention doing play-by-play for CBS’s coverage of the NFL, including play-off games and (in years when CBS carries it) the Super Bowl.

On this day, his back has been acting up—a bulging disc pressing on a nerve will be the eventual diagnosis—but Nantz, who turns 52 this May, has no time for infirmity. Because, bad back and all, Nantz couldn’t be happier.

“I love what I do,” he says, lowering his 6-foot-2 frame gingerly to a couch. He’s less concerned about back pain than the ever-present threat of cold and flu bugs: “The ones that concern me are the ones that involve my throat. That’s the most important thing going into this coming stretch: my voice. That’s why I’m a compulsive hand-washer.

“I used to battle laryngitis every year around Augusta. The pollen is so thick that week that you need your windshield wipers to clear it after your car has been sitting there for a while. And I always react to it. When Tiger won his first Masters in 1997, I ended up getting some sort of steroid shot in my fanny and by Sunday, I had my whole voice back. I had to call the whole tournament from Butler Cabin, so I wasn’t out in the air and the pollen.

“So this back problem is a nonstory. I’ve had times where I’ve been so sick that I had to call a golf tournament lying on my back on the floor of the booth while watching a monitor.”

To demonstrate, he lays his head on the armrest of a couch, mimicking lying on a pillow on the floor while flu-struck: “I’d lift my head to say, ‘Let’s go to 18…Tom Watson for birdie…Back to 15.’ I was watching this tiny little monitor. The audience at home never knew.”

His love for his work keeps him charging forward—and the skill he brings to each assignment keeps him in demand, beginning with a voice that is at once warm, welcoming and authoritative.

“There’s something about his voice that is resonant in a way that is captivating and electric,” says Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. “It draws people in. It’s calm and it’s classy."

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Comments   1 comment(s)

Tracy Rowe — KS, USA,  —  November 20, 2011 5:32am ET

I have a collection of 40 cigars dating from 1897 to 1944 with a variety of brands. They are individual cigars in mint condition. The history or occasion is available for each one (wedding, birth of a child, company picnic, etc.). Any ideas where to sell them? Thanks, Tracy

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