Posted: Monday May 2, 2005 11:42AM; Updated: Tuesday May 3, 2005 3:39PM
ESPN Pregame Show
Rece Davis, Ron Jaworski, Tom Jackson, Chris Mortensen, Andrea Kremer, Mel Kiper Jr. and Lewis Black or Chris Rock
Submit a question or comment for Richard.
ESPN has already announced that Chris Berman will be its studio host. That's fine. His over-the-top style is occasionally irksome but you can never question Berman's passion for the game and he is egoless when it comes to setting up the talent around him -- one of the best attributes for a studio head.
Still, I'd love to see what Davis, Chris Fowler, Brian Kenny or even Mike Tirico could do in the seat. Davis, in particular, handles every assignment seamlessly no matter if it's baseball or women's basketball. Jaworski is simply the best X's and O's analyst on television. He'd add a new element to the studio show. Jackson has always been the soul of Sunday NFL Countdown. He stays, as does Mortensen, who is a reporter nonpareil. His sources are many and he has a terrific reputation among his peers and viewers.
Kremer is an ace on features. She asks great questions and players open up to her. I have no idea whether Black knows football, but the idea of allowing someone as angry as he is to do a two-minute rant on what bothers him that week strikes me as good television. Same goes with Rock (the funniest man on the planet).
I've always thought Kiper Jr. should be part of ESPN's studio show, at least during the second half of the season. The NFL Draft coverage just pulled a monster 4.3 rating -- the highest numbers ever for the event -- and more than 34 million people tuned in to at least a part of it, according to ESPN. Kiper could examine how current NFL players from recent drafts have done in comparison to his big board, as well as look toward the future and predict what teams might be looking for in next year's draft.
Al Michaels (play-by-play), Paul Maguire (analyst), Brett Favre (analyst) and Suzy Kolber
If you have a shot to get Michaels, you grab him and don't look back. Michaels may be tough on his partners (see Esiason, Boomer) and he's got a huge ego, but he's a Hall of Fame announcer. Choosing Michaels over current Sunday Night Football announcer Mike Patrick speaks more about Michaels than it does Patrick, but it's a no-brainer.
Farve is likely going to retire after this season, and he'll carry instant respect if and when he enters the booth. But I wouldn't put him on the island alone, which is why McGuire is there. He's an underrated gem, and has been great since his NBC days. ESPN's Mark Shapiro, the network's executive vice president in charge of programming and production, says he favors a two-man booth but likes his current team. So let's keep another part of the team with Kolber, who probably gets more airtime than any sideline reporter in history, but has earned it with her feature-style reporting and authoritative interviews.