Bob Blitz, one of the pillars of the Washington/Baltimore broadcast team over the past 40 years, has passed away. We are saddened to report that Bob Blitz, one of the pillars of the Washington/Baltimore broadcast team over the past 40 years, has passed away. http://t.co/FTpd3bcjeU pic.twitter.com/RhfDea1UZ2 — NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) July 26, 2015
On the advice of his wife, Bob Blitz didn’t officially announce that he was retiring from color commentary for the NFL on Sunday. Instead, he went silent on Twitter.
“It was just an emotional time,” Blitz told The Post. “I was devastated over this. I knew it was coming. I just didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.”
Blitz actually said the exact opposite of what was commonly believed in his first post-retirement tweet, “I will not be commenting on any of the recent issues affecting the NFL.”
But he also had an extremely valuable role as a voice of reason on the topic. During his 39 years as a color commentator, Blitz coined some of the more iconic NFL phrases (“big ol’ night” and “this [heck] has been grand” being perhaps the most common). And, along with Doug Williams, he played an integral role in the creation of the Washington/Baltimore broadcasts — the NFL Network version, at least.
When the Redskins decided to move the team to St. Louis and cause controversy within the sports world, Blitz had a unique perspective. Just before Week 1 of the 2013 season, Blitz, who had previously covered the NFL for the Redskins, implored management to delay the move.
“Let’s hope they do not make a move this season. It’s not fun on the fans or players or everybody involved,” Blitz said during Redskins-Cowboys. “I just got talked to somebody by phone that was on the Redskins, one of the good guys, the teammates are behind him 100 percent. And they want him to stay for a long time. I understand that — it’s not easy to walk away from that situation — but it seems like there’s still so much controversy on it.
“We’ve all been involved with the debate as in-laws, we’ve all been involved with the debate — football, sports, politics, life itself, all that. I just think what they are doing is a very different approach than is normal.”
Again, he didn’t specifically say this in 2013, but he was showing a prescient eye. Many assumed that the movement to move the franchise was final when Snyder vowed to move the team. But when it was reported in January that the football side had granted permission to move the team to Los Angeles, Blitz wondered what the next step might be. The following month, some fans made it clear their displeasure with the move when they tore down a billboard supporting Snyder’s decision to move.
“I certainly don’t think that the uproar will stop because they did not give the return date,” Blitz said. “I think that will continue to rage on, as will the annual threat that may come forth again. I think that will just continually move. The same conversation could be having again, but until they actually move, I do not think that the masses will back off. The question is how long will they wait?”
The Redskins ultimately had the last laugh when they played in the Super Bowl two months after the billboard was torn down. But Blitz is working through his sadness now.
“The last time we did [an NFL broadcast], it was a very special occasion,” Blitz said. “And I get to do it again. That makes me feel even better about this.”