Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Give generously to the Billy Packer Retirement Fund
March 30, 2006

Mr. Sean McManus
President, CBS News and Sports
51 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019-6188

Dear Mr. McManus,


I've waited long enough. In fact, I've waited my entire adult life. Every year I hold out hope that this Final Four will be different. But every year Billy Packer shows up yet again.

How long must we fans of college basketball continue to suffer? This pain is inflicted on no other sport.

The Super Bowl is covered by a different announcing crew every year. The BCS title game doesn't appear to be the sole possession of any one announcing team. I literally have no idea which network is carrying the NBA Finals this year, much less who will announce the games. Heck, even the FOX announcers who've been doing the World Series for the last several years are newbies compared to Packer.

No, it's only the Final Four that's chained to the same analyst year in, year out.

Presidents come and go. Popes, Supreme Court justices, U.N. Secretaries General, Federal Reserve Chairmen, NFL Commissioners, even members of the Rolling Stones ("those damn kids," as Packer calls them)--they all rotate with more frequency than do your announcers for the Final Four.

And so I have a question:

Why? In heaven's name, why? Are we to believe you're swamped with emails from fans of Packer? ("Fans of Packer." There's an oxymoron, huh?) Do you think we like this state of affairs?

Are you under the impression that we want the Final Four covered by:

An analyst who came in a distant third behind Dick Cheney and Barry Bonds in a "Mr. Warm and Affable" contest?

An analyst with the inexplicable corrosive rage of an Edward Albee character?

An analyst who reportedly got into "a heated exchange with the entire cast" while taping a guest spot for "A Very Special Elmo Salute to Baby Pandas"?

Let me put it to you this way....

Packer doing the Final Four is a bit like having an insufferably pompous guy marry into your family. Said guy, attached as he is to someone or something so beloved, is simply unavoidable--and therefore all the more maddening. Cherished annual events that should be a source of unalloyed delight are instead approached with gritted teeth and a "let's just get through this" attitude.

And so this year I will continue to "act locally," extending my long-standing personal boycott of all CBS "Road to the Final Four" advertisers. This boycott will end only when Packer departs.

Until that happy day I will not stand in the ocean surf playing a stand-up bass and singing about the shrimp at Applebee's; I will not rent from Enterprise and drive a car full of children directly onto the soccer field; I will not paint my body and wear a cape to purchase insurance from my State Farm agent; and I will not evade pert questions from my significant other by lathering up with Head & Shoulders body wash. And please understand this is a great sacrifice for me because in any given week I would ordinarily do all these things.

Still, I don't want you to think all I offer here is merely a torch for destruction. No, sir, I've come with a hammer for building, as well. Here's my plan....

Let's buy him out.

I admit I don't know what kind of 401(k) you offer at CBS. But it can't be all that great or else C. Montgomery Packer wouldn't still be hanging around, am I right?

So how about we give him an early retirement package--in the form of some tasteful wallet-sized portraits of his favorite ex-Presidents? (Heck, he was probably friends with some of these guys.) I have to believe Packer would much rather count his monetary blessings than stoop to announcing a game with a (gasp) mid-major like (shudder) George Mason.

Anyway, that's my offer. I've even started the ball rolling by taking up a collection for his retirement in my blog.*

To paraphrase Hyman Roth: if I don't see Packer doing the early game Saturday, I'll know we have a deal. If I do, I'll know we don't.

Blogospherically Yours,


P.S. I know it's not really your department but, while you're at it, can you see about keeping the "How I Met Your Mother" commercials down to less than 12 an hour? Thanks.

Donate here!
Yes! I want to contribute to the Billy Packer Retirement Fund. I wish Mr. Packer a long and happy retirement promulgating smugly dyspeptic criticisms of the condo association's selections for the shuffleboard tournament.

* Editor's Note: Should Mr. Packer not accept this generous offer and instead show up yet again at the Final Four this weekend, all funds collected here will be donated to the East Side Tornado Relief Fund in my hometown of Springfield, Illinois, where two tornadoes touched down on March 12 and caused millions of dollars in property damage.


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