2011 NFL Broadcasting Guide (Cont.)
NFL GameDay Morning --Rich Eisen (host), Steve Mariucci (analyst), Marshall Faulk (analyst), Michael Irvin (analyst), Warren Sapp (analyst), Kurt Warner (analyst), Mike Mayock (remote analyst), Michael Lombardi (front office view), Jason La Canfora (reporter), Albert Breer (reporter), Steve Cyphers (reporter), Stacey Dales (reporter), Randy Moss (reporter) and Steve Wyche (reporter).
NFL GameDay Scoreboard -- Paul Burmeister (host), Jamie Dukes (analyst), Tom Waddle (analyst).
NFL GameDay Highlights -- Eisen, Mariucci, Sanders.
NFL GameDay Final -- Fran Charles (host), Mariucci, Sanders, Irvin.
Thursday Night Football -- Brad Nessler (play by play), Mayock (analyst), Alex Flanagan (sideline reporter).
Thursday Night Football pre/half/postgame show -- Eisen, Faulk, Irvin, Mariucci, Sanders, Warner, Sterling Sharpe (analyst), and Jay Glazer (analyst).
Finally, our long national nightmare of Matt Millen and Joe Theismann has ended. The new team of Nessler and Mayock gives the network an opportunity for much needed consistency because that's been the major issue with this broadcast. NFLN's group of broadcasters on Thursday night had included Bryant Gumbel, Collinsworth, Dick Vermeil, Faulk and Sanders before the team of Bob Papa and Millen debuted in 2009. In a move as inspiring as it was unoriginal, Theismann was added last year.
It's important to note that Papa is a quality broadcaster who got dealt a very bad hand last season. He deserves a national gig at a network and I hope he gets it. He'll continue to call New York Giant games locally. Cyphers, the ESPN vet, is a solid hire as a reporter. Mayock will provide info via remote for the GameDay morning show.
The biggest studio change is the addition of Warner. "The addition of Kurt is a big deal for us," said Mark Quenzel, the NFL Network's senior vice president of programming and production. "I've been asked if that's too many people on the show and I don't think it is. We are on for four hours and we're the first ones on. Our goal is to specialize in subject matter that plays to our skill sets, and one of the things that plays to our strengths is we have the key positions covered. With Kurt we have the quarterback, we have the wide receiver, defensive player, running back and coach."
Irvin joins an already crowded set on the pregame, halftime and postgame show on Thursday night. More Irvin is never good news for viewers.
NFLN added NBC analyst Harrison and former NFL fullback Heath Evans to work on its programming during the week. "We fell in love with Heath during the lockout when we talked to him as a player," Quenzel said. "It may not be fair to put this on him but he brings so many interesting qualities. He speaks his mind. He is articulate. I like him a lot."
NFL Network executives remain smitten with Irvin and Sanders, so for those of you not enamored with ridiculous pronouncements (Irvin) or self-aggrandizing statements (Sanders), I'd suggest the mute button when you see the them on screen. Eisen continues to grow as a host, and he does a nice job of allowing his analysts to shine while offering viewers knowledge of the league. I've always respected Faulk as an analyst and he's often ahead of the curve on issues and players. Sapp and Mariucci both impress and annoy me depending on the day. The NFL reporters are solid. Sharpe is a grump. I'll say this about Jay Glazer: His acting is brilliant on Subway commercials.
NFLN's "Word on the Street" segment during GameDay will return, featuring local reporters and announcers live from game sites
WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED
The biggest need was addressed with the shelving of Millen and Theismann and the addition of Mayock. NFL Network execs think the crowded GameDay set will be an advantage; traditionally, that has not been the case for pregame shows.
Jets at Broncos (Nov. 17, 8:20 p.m.), Niners at Ravens (Nov. 24, 8:20 p.m.), Eagles at Seahawks (Dec. 1, 8:20 p.m.), Cowboys at Bucs (Dec. 17, 8:20 p.m.), Texans at Colts (Dec. 22, 8:20 p.m.).
TRASH-TALKING THE OPPONENTS
"I will put up our lineup of knowledgeable talent against anyone, including ESPN. We are as good as it gets right now. Kurt only adds that and Mayock in his new role adds to that, too. We can bring more voices to the table from every position on the field, including the coaches' position, and we do that better than anyone else candidly." -- Quenzel
OBLIGATORY EAGLES COMMENT
"Come on, give me a break. They're the Philadelphia Eagles. The last time I checked, they haven't won anything since 1960. That would be my cautionary tale to Eagles fans. How many times have they had their bags packed on their way to a Super Bowl?" -- Sapp, on The Dan Patrick Show.
BURNING QUESTION 1:
SI.com: Why will the pairing of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock work?
Quenzel: I think Mayock is completely unique in the business. He is a no-nonsense, call-it-as-he-sees-it guy. He is straightforward and unvarnished, and he's going to be a breath of fresh air in a lot of respects with how he calls a game. As a team, what it allows us to do is make Mike singularly focused on the game at hand, which is what he should be doing. What Brad brings to this -- and it's important for us -- is perspective. He'll lead us down the road of not only what is happening in front of us, but what is happening in the league, what is happening on the season. Our goal for Thursday Night Football is to document the game, and at the same time, document what is happening in the league.
BURNING QUESTION 2
SI.com: Why in your opinion are Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders effective broadcasters?
Quenzel: I think they are effective because they are opinionated. The fact that they are polarizing is exactly what makes them so valuable. You don't have to like them but the greatest negative in television is not whether you like or hate them: It's when you don't care about them. What Deion does and what Michael does -- and if they are not the two best in sports television, they are darn close -- they say things that prompt an emotional response whether that is agreement or disagreement. That's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for emotional responses from the people they sit next to, and I'm looking for emotional responses from the people who are watching. They both stir the drink, and that is a rare thing in our business."
Last year's edition of Thursday Night Football was the most-watched in the network's history, with an average of 5.7 million cable viewers per game and up from 5.5 million in 2009. Its Cowboys-Cardinals game on Christmas Day drew 7.8 million viewers, the third-most-watched game in network history.
MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER: Sapp @QBKILLA takes Tweeting very seriously, as evidenced by his 78,000 tweets. He's active with fans and doesn't hold back in the space. It's a good fit.