"Color" commentator

In football commentary, I get sidelines and play-by-play commentator, but what about the “color” guy? Why color?

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary entry for color:

It’s this definition I think they are referring to. This is in the same vein as the expression “local color.”

To use a drawing as an example, you can start with a pencil outline of what you want to draw, and know what it is. You can see all the details involved. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, you highlight or fill-in with color.

As a play-by-play announcer gives details of what’s going on in the game, the “color” guy will usually offer his own insight into a situation. Sometimes they will mix in a story between the action, all in an effort to add entertainment to the broadcast. This is why you’ll often see an ex-football player as the color guy. For instance, Monday Night Football has used Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esaison, and Dan Fouts, to name a few.

I think it had something to do with the early days where you only had a radio broadcast to listen to, particularly in baseball. The guy behind the mike was both announcer and color guy, painting a picture of the action so the listening audience could “see” what was happening on the field.

thanks guys!