Stamps stadium announcer Dan Carson sounds more like George Costanza as he prepares for his debut on CBC.
Although told by network officials to call today's Labour Day game exactly as he has the last 14 years, McMahon Stadium's in-house play-by-play man is riddled with concerns over having his microphone fed directly into more than half a million homes via CBC's barebones broadcast.
"I wonder what I'm getting myself into," asked the 42-year-old. "Am I a scab now? I'm just doing what the league pays me to do and suddenly I'm in the middle of this thing. If I do it the same way I always do it, maybe it looks like I'm playing it up for the producers. That concerns me because I have friends at CBC who are locked out. It's a weird situation."
Take a deep breath, Danny boy.
"You've got owners talking about it being an inferior product," said Carson, pausing.
"The contrast to everybody running around saying, 'oh it's an inferior product -- we'll have to settle for using the PA guys.' Well, when you're the PA guy, it's pretty exciting. I've been thinking about it ever since I realized it might be a possibility. I had aspirations of being a play-by-play guy since I was young and this is pretty much the same deal. It's essentially the same microphone a commentator would have on."
As instructed by Stamps game day and event co-ordinator Jessa Morrison it'll be business as usual for Carson, who is to sum up every play and read every ad on his script as he always does.
While ratings for the few CFL games on CBC devoid of locked-out commentators have increased by 10%, it's understood only a fool would suggest it's a more entertaining product. The attraction is much like that of a car crash -- everyone wants a peek but no one is sure why.
That said, today's matchup has tremendous local and national appeal due to the ongoing rivalry as well as the importance of the contest as it relates to the west's playoff picture. The numbers will be up again, ensuring Carson's descriptions of the provincial battle will find a way into more homes than he ever dreamed possible. A scary thought, indeed, given the lack of support his words will be given on the broadcast.
"I'm watching the intro to the game last week on CBC and they're running all the same stuff and it just kind of looks stupid," said Carson, who left Country 105 in 1989 for a year to broadcast Calgary Cannons games.
"Some of the people thought the Saskatchewan guy was playing it up. Here, it's a more loosey-goosey style than most stadiums. I'm a little more off the cuff and colourful than most of the other ones."
Indeed he is. He's just as biased, though, which is all part of being the hometown announcer. First downs for the Stamps will still be delivered with far more vim and vigour than Eskimos touchdowns.
"The excitement of doing it is outweighing all my other thought processes," said Carson, who gets paid less than $100 each game. "Labour Day is the only day of the year I get nervous for. It's just such a great atmosphere in Calgary. You never know how much attention is being paid to the stadium announcing but it's out there. This just adds to the anxiety level."
And hopefully to the entertainment level for those at home wondering what on earth is going on.