Gleason, Harper, Shanle, Stinchcomb talk Saints with Strief

Former Saints players send love, critiques to Zach

Newell Normand
July 28, 2018 - 8:23 am

BIG announcement this week here on WWL.  Former Saints offensive lineman Zach Strief is the new Voice of the Saints, the play-by-play announcer for WWL, the flagship station of the New Orleans Saints.  Just months after retiring as a player, Strief will get to step back into the Superdome in a different capacity.  This is not a job that comes up very often.  I think the opportunity that presented itself was really rare, special and unusual.  It is a rare opportunity. There are only 32 radio play-by-play announcers in the NFL, and Zach is now in that number. That also brings pressure.  The good news, Strief is no stranger to the bright lights of the Superdome. 

“Fortunately, I'm used to having anxiety in the Superdome; so that won't be a new experience,” smiled Strief.  “There will be nerves, but I want to do a good job.  I want people to enjoy it, and I want people to feel like they're a part of something special,” said Zach.

Gotta tell ya, I can relate to feeling a bit nervous behind the microphone.  I never really had nerves speaking before the public; but the very first day I sat in this talk host chair, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get a word out.  This stage is huge.  The power can be intimidating.  But, when you get in the heat of the moment, you won't have anything else on your mind.

Zach Strief spent his entire NFL career in New Orleans, and several former teammates called in to wish him well and share some helpful advice. Steve Gleason had a special message for Zach.  “Congratulations, my man! I look forward to hearing your sweet and soothing voice for many years to come.”  This touched me deeply.  I could see how much the message from Steve meant to Zach.

Gleason wasn't the only old friend who had to talk with Zach.  Former Saints safety Roman Harper called in to chat.  “I can't wait to hear what this new voice of the Saints sounds like on a full-time basis.  He's got a face for radio,” said Harper.  Roman also had to point out some practical concerns with having Strief and former Saints running back and color analyst Deuce McAllister calling games. “The booth is going to have to be huge to have him and Deuce sit in it.  It's going to have to be an extra-large booth they're going to have to build in the Superdome,” laughed Harper.  After the playful ribbing, Roman went on, “He's going to kill it.   He's always been so talented, and he knows ball.  He's always going to be successful at whatever he does.”

Has Zach thought of a catchphrase or a tagline that’ll be all his own?  One Saints fans will share and repeat?

“It'll be exciting to see what silly things come out of my mouth that people latch on to. I'm working on it.  I need something,”

Scott Shanle also stopped by this special edition of my show.

“Congrats is in order to Zach.  I'm extremely happy for him.  I know the Who Dat Nation and Saints fans are extremely excited about having Zach's voice over the radio waves.”  Shanle continued, “When I think of guys who Coach Payton started in '06, who built the foundation, Zach is one of those guys you automatically picture.”

After all those kind words, Strief deadpanned, “Scott Shanle said 14 words in about 8 years.  He spoke about 4 paragraphs.  Then he retired, and he's about the most active Twitter follow I have.”

With all his friends who played and still play, is Strief worried there will be any Monday Morning Quarterbacking?

“There will Sunday Afternoon Quarterbacking,” said Zach.  “They already warned me.  They told me, 'You better turn your cellphone off during games.'”

And, of course, Strief's former offensive line teammate Jon Stinchcomb had to weigh in as well.  “I'm just surprised it took this short of an amount of time to get such a big head, just to see how much he's changed.  He's already thinking he's thinking he's a gift to radio. It's shocking to see a person change so quickly.  After joking around, Stinchcomb got sincere. “I've been thrilled for him.  I consider him like a brother.  I'll continue to support him like I always do.”

Gotta tell you…the outpouring of support from friends and old colleagues speaks to me in a special way.  Good leaders surround themselves with good people.  Zach Strief has done that throughout his career. And he realizes he's stepping from one leadership role to another.

“Being a leader and being a captain is not a glamorous position,” affirmed Zach.  “It's dirty most of the time, and you find yourself doing things you don't want to do, but you know you have to and you should.”

Take a listen to the whole conversation below.  One of my favorite shows. 

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