NFL Broadcasting Guide (cont.)
FOX NFL Sunday -- Curt Menefee (co-host), Terry Bradshaw (co-host), Howie Long (analyst), Jimmy Johnson (analyst), Michael Strahan (analyst), Jay Glazer (reporter), Mike Pereira (rules analyst) and Rob Riggle (comedian), Pam Oliver (reporter).
1. Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline).
2. Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst), Tony Siragusa (sideline).
3. Thom Brennaman (play-by-play), Brian Billick (analyst) and Laura Okmin (sideline).
4. Dick Stockton (play-by-play), John Lynch (analyst) and Jennifer Hale (sideline).
5. Chris Myers (play by play),Tim Ryan (analyst), Jamie Maggio (sideline).
6. Sam Rosen (play-by-play), Heath Evans (analyst).
7. Ron Pitts (play-by-play), Mike Martz (analyst).
Former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Mike Martz and former NFL fullback Heath Evans have joined the roster as game analysts. It will be interesting to see if Martz is serious about broadcasting for the long haul. He signed a two-year deal. "Mike is a brilliant coach and he has amazing insight; he says really interesting things," said FOX Sports president Eric Shanks. "Anytime a guy comes fresh into a booth, there are a lot of buttons to push and you have to figure out a way how you are going speak to people at home and get your thoughts out succinctly... I think once he gets some reps under him, he could be one of those relevant, interesting voices calling games in the NFL."
Erin Andrews, who is hosting FOX's college football studio show, gets sideline duties on Thanksgiving Day and will also work during the network's NFC playoff coverage. Hale and Maggio were also added as sideline reporters. Chad Pennington and Jim Mora Jr. (who is now coaching UCLA) did not return to the network.
FOX says for the first time in 19 years, it will update its stage setup on FOX NFL Sunday. It'll also introduce a new graphics tracking system that tracks players on the field and follows them in real-time, where you can identify them on wide camera shots. Two banks of eight unmanned cameras are set up high in-stadium at adjacent 35-yard lines; the cameras track all moving objects and technicians identify and tag players by number. "Say when Troy is talking about a particular matchup on the left side of the field, those guys' names will pop up and you can follow them," said Shanks. "It's kind of like the pointers for our NASCAR cars. I think it will be one of most helpful innovations that we have come up with since the first-down line."
Rob Riggle joins FOX as the new in-house comedian, replacing Frank Caliendo.
Well, the combined age of Bradshaw, Long and Johnson is 172. But it's a young-at-heart group and a tight bunch: Bradshaw and Long have been with the show since its debut in 1994 and this year marks Johnson's 13th season on the show.
Here's hoping his bosses recognize the steady improvement from Menefee, who has become a solid studio host. The top three broadcasting teams remain unchanged, which isn't good for those of us who have to endure Siragusa's schtick.
FOX says Gus Johnson will once again call NFL games later in the year, after his college football schedule has concluded.
Niners at Packers (Sept. 9, 4:15 p.m.), Saints at Panthers (Sept. 16, 1 p.m.), Cowboys at Seahawks (Sept. 16, 4:15 p.m.), Lions at Titans (Sept. 23, 1 p.m.), Niners at Jets (Sept. 30, 1 p.m.); Saints at Packers (Sept. 30, 4:15 p.m.), Eagles at Steelers (Oct. 7, 1 p.m.), Lions at Eagles (Oct. 14, 1 p.m.); Cowboys at Ravens (Oct, 14, 4:15 p.m.); Giants at Niners (Oct. 14, 4:15 p.m.); Falcons at Eagles (Oct. 28, 1 p.m.), Giants at Cowboys (Oct. 28, 4:15 p.m.), Falcons at Saints (Nov. 11, 1 p.m.), Cowboys at Eagles (Nov. 11, 4:15 p.m.), Packers at Lions (Nov. 18, 1 p.m.), Redskins at Cowboys (Nov. 22, Thanksgiving, 4:15 p.m.), Niners at Saints (Nov. 25, 4:15 p.m.), Bucs at Broncos (Dec. 2, 4:05 p.m.), Falcons at Panthers (Dec. 9, 1 p.m.), Saints at Giants (Dec. 9, 4:15 p.m.), Packers at Bears (Dec. 16, 1 p.m.), Giants at Falcons (Dec. 16, 1 p.m.), Saints at Cowboys (Dec. 23, 1:00 p.m.), Giants at Ravens (Dec. 23, 1 p.m.), Bears at Lions (Dec. 30, 1 p.m.), Eagles at Giants (Dec. 30, 1 p.m.), Panthers at Saints (Dec. 30, 1:00 p.m.).
SI.com: How long will replacement referees last?
Pereira: For the good of the game, we deserve to have the best players on the field and we deserve as fans to have the best officials on the field, too. You can say that people don't go to see officials work and that is true, but then again we don't have a game without officials. They are a hugely important part of this game. How long will it go? With the lines drawn in the sand right now, I think it will go two, three, four weeks of the regular season. The problems that we have seen in the preseason will be magnified when the regular season starts because speed will pick up dramatically and the intensity will be super-charged up from preseason football.
SI.com: How will Michael Strahan balance his FOX NFL Sunday duties (a show based in Los Angeles) with his daily responsibilities as the co-host of Live! With Kelly (a show based in New York City)?
FOX Sports Executive Producer John Entz: There is no doubt in anyone's mind here. He loves to work and whatever comes his way, he will be up for it. We're just excited that he is coming back on Sundays.
OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT
"I don't think Peyton is 100 percent and I don't know that he will ever get back to where he once was. But watching him in practice and in the preseason, I think he will put together a great year. I like the young players they have. If they don't win the Super Bowl, some will view it as a disappointment. When the goal is only Super Bowl-or-bust, that's hard no matter who you are. But if this team is not in contention in January, I will be surprised." - Aikman.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
FOX's Sunday national telecast was the most-watched show among all programs, with an average of 25.8 million viewers.
MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER
Rules analyst Mike Pereira gets Twitter. He engages fans on officiating questions, even occasionally tweeting from weddings.
Football Night In America -- Bob Costas (host), Dan Patrick (co-host), Tony Dungy (analyst), Rodney Harrison (analyst), Hines Ward (analyst), Mike Florio (information), Peter King (reporter and SI.com football writer).
Sunday Night Football -- Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst) and Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter).
NBC will air its first-ever Thanksgiving night game -- Jets at Patriots on Nov. 22 -- as part of a new NBC Thanksgiving night game that will air each season through 2022.
After impressing the NBC brass last February as a guest analyst at the Super Bowl, Ward joins Football Night In America. He'll morph between studio work in New York City and game sites, including appearances in Denver for the Steelers at Broncos on Sept. 9 and in Baltimore for the Patriots at Ravens on Sept. 23. Look for Ward to share some stories about getting seriously heckled in Baltimore.
The high-flying Florio brand gets extended as Pro Football Talk will be become a daily show (5-6 p.m. ET) on the NBC Sports Network.
Given the NFL's kickoff changes this fall -- some late kickoffs have been moved to 4:25 p.m. -- viewers will get to Football Night In America even later at times this season. What does this mean for NBC? "We'll be moving a few things around for our show, and some of that we'll feel out over the first couple of weeks," said Sam Flood, the lead executive for Football Night in America. "But overall we think we have a winning combination and we're getting stronger adding Hines to the mix."
Tafoya's sideline microphone will be connected to an iPhone and NBC says she'll have someone with her that records and puts her reports both on Twitter, and NBC's Sunday Night Football Extra platform. "We think that's going to make an impact with people who like that second screen experience," said NBC Sports and Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli.
Michaels and Collinsworth enter their fourth year together as NBC's lead team and the best broadcast team in the sport. Remarkably, this will be Michaels' 27th year as the lead analyst on a major football package. He's been with Sunday Night Football since 2006 after a long run at ABC.
It's amazing that Dungy is now in his fourth year as studio analyst. He's quietly become one of the more thoughtful voices on an NFL studio show.
BEST GAMES (all games start at 8:20 p.m. ET unless noted)
Cowboys at Giants (Sept. 5, 8:30 p.m.); Steelers at Broncos (Sept. 9); Lions at Niners (Sept. 16); Patriots at Ravens (Sept. 23), Packers at Texans (Oct. 14); Saints at Broncos (Oct. 28); Cowboys at Falcons (Nov. 4); Ravens at Steelers (Nov. 18); Patriots at Jets (Nov. 22); Packers at Giants (Nov. 25); Eagles at Cowboys (Dec. 2); Lions at Packers (Dec. 9); Niners at Patriots (Dec. 16).
SI.com: Why will Hines Ward be a good broadcaster?
Collinsworth: Because he works hard. To me, there are no secrets in life. Whatever you are doing, talent comes into play but people who work the hardest at what they do generally do OK. Every report I have gotten on Hines with the people working with him is that he is working his tail off. Usually, things work out for people who work like that."
SI.com: How will replacement referees impact the game?
Collinsworth: My concern is that the replacement referees get too cautious. In other words, the easiest way for them to disappear is to keep the flag in their pocket. I think that even the players are starting to get a little sense of that right now, that maybe they can push the envelope just a little bit more than what they've done in the past. And if that's the case then maybe we get players that get a little more aggressive than we would've seen otherwise."
OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT
"The last one I can remember like this was Joe Montana going to Kansas City and changing the dynamic of things. They went from a good team to the AFC Championship. I think that's what Denver is hoping for. I think they will be much better offensively than they were. I think Peyton will give them a lot of time to help the defense. I do know this: Peyton Manning will help everybody around him get better .They were a playoff team that went two rounds into it last year. So they will be back in the playoffs and knocking at the door again." - Dungy
NUMBERS TO KNOW
Sunday Night Football ranked as the most-watched and highest-rated show in 2011, and the No. 1 program across the key demographics of adults 18-49, 18-34 and 25-54. It was also the No. 3 show overall among women 18-34, and the No. 4 show among women 18-49. It averaged 21.5 million viewers.
MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER
Florio's Pro Football Talk is one of the must-sources for NFL fans.
First on the Field -- Melissa Stark (host), Sterling Sharpe (analyst), LaDainian Tomlinson (analyst), Michael Lombardi (analyst).
NFL GameDay Morning --Rich Eisen (host), Steve Mariucci (analyst), Marshall Faulk (analyst), Michael Irvin (analyst), Warren Sapp (analyst), Kurt Warner (analyst) .
NFL GameDay Scoreboard -- Paul Burmeister (host), Darren Sharper (analyst), Tom Waddle (analyst).
NFL GameDay Highlights -- Chris Rose (host), Mariucci, Sanders.
NFL GameDay Final -- Rose, Faulk, Sanders, Irvin.
Thursday Night Football -- Brad Nessler (play by play), Mike Mayock (analyst), Alex Flanagan (sideline reporter).
Thursday Night Football pre/half/postgame show -- Eisen, Faulk, Irvin, Mariucci, Sanders, Stacey Dales (reporter).
An expanded 13-game regular season primetime schedule, up from eight games last season. As a schedule, it's not exactly the Mona Lisa, but the jump in games is huge for the network and the first two games (Bears at Packers and Giants at Panthers) are very good. "The schedule is a game-changer for us and that's no pun intended," said Mark Quenzel, the NFL Network Senior VP/Programming & Production. "We get to start the season with everyone else. Obviously, when the league starts up there is a huge interest. We did our best to cover it, but to participate in it from the get-go is a huge thing for us. Games drive everything you do."
NFLN will get a start on all the other networks Sunday with First on the Field, a show that airs (and this is not a misprint) at 7 a.m. ET. It's the first live pregame show to originate from NFL Films, in Mt. Laurel, N.J., and will feature live reports from game sites. The big talent addition here is Tomlinson, the soon-to-be-Hall of Famer who will serve as an analyst.
Veteran sportscaster Rose, currently seen at MLB Network, has been added to host the Sunday night Gameday Highlights and Gameday Final shows, as well as NFL Total Access on Thursday nights after Thursday Night Football.
As predicted by just about everyone not named Matt Millen or Joe Theismann, Nessler and Mayock solidified the Thursday night broadcast. It's a team that should last for some time. "We started the second half of the season last year with a crew pulled from different places," Mayock said. "We didn't have an established culture. That is a hard thing to do, to jump in the middle of the season with a whole bunch of different components. To try to pull that together and be as good as everyone else is hard. What I am excited about is we are starting Week 2 of the NFL season this year and with 13 games [on the schedule], we get a chance to compete more on equal turf with the other primetime games."
Eisen continues to improve yearly as a host of multiple programs and podcasts.
Sapp's attitude with other media, for starters. He recently redefined how not to conduct a book tour.
BEST GAMES (all games 8:00 p.m. ET)
Bears at Packers (Sept. 13); Giants at Panthers (Sept. 20); Steelers at Titans (Oct. 11); Seahawks at Niners (Oct. 18); Chiefs at Chargers (Nov. 1); Saints at Falcons (Nov. 29): Broncos at Raiders (Dec. 6); Bengals at Eagles (Dec. 13).
SI.com: Why will LaDainian Tomlinson be an effective announcer?
Quenzel: Obviously, he brings experience and expertise as a sure-fire Hall of Famer. He's smart, he's articulate, he's a student of the game. Sometimes you can bring in great athletes but that does not necessarily translate to television or media in general, but with him it does. I saw a rehearsal last week and I was very encouraged.
SI.com: Where does the network stand with Warren Sapp?
Quenzel: Whether it's Game Day Morning or Total Access -- he is on a lot of things we do -- I think Warren brings a fantastic defensive perspective in a league that is primarily offense. He has a phenomenal personality. The audience in all the focus groups we have done enjoy him, so I think he brings a lot of that to the table.
"But, candidly, it is a double-edged sword. Warren brings an edge to him. He played that way, and when he speaks, he speaks that way. And whether you are playing or speaking, when you are on the edge, there is always the danger of falling off that edge. We are aware of that and we work hard with Warren to make sure that we don't cross that line. Does it happen occasionally? It does. I don't think anything Warren ever done has been malicious, so I think really, when we have dealt with Warren, when we have crossed the line, it really comes down to an education process and making sure we do the best we can with him to not take that edge out of his personality while making sure that we are editorially correct.
OBLIGATORY PEYTON MANNING COMMENT
"You have a playoff team that won a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and now you are putting Peyton Manning in there. If he is as healthy as he has been in the past, I think they are the favorite in that division. He makes everybody better. From what I have seen in his limited snaps, he has a little bit of rust, but he looks like Peyton Manning to me." - Mayock.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
NFL Network wrapped up its sixth season of Thursday Night Football with a record average of 6.2 million cable viewers.
MUST FOLLOW ON TWITTER
With more than 400,000 followers, Eisen has a large social media imprint, tweeting his thoughts on games, among other subjects.