Get yer program! Can’t tell the NFL talking heads from the fans without a program!
It’s musical chairs on the NFL’s Sunday morning (and virtually everywhere else) shows. Here’s who’s in and out.
Monday Night Football (ESPN)
ESPN’s Monday night football, now in its 47th year (counting the ABC years), will see its first broadcast booth revamp since color commentator Ron Jaworski’s departure after the 2011 season. Longtime play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico left for a new contract with NBC Sports and is expected to be the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s Thursday Night Football broadcast package.
In Tirico’s place steps Sean McDonough as the new play-by-play voice for the venerable Monday Night Football franchise. He will work alongside holdover analyst Jon Gruden and reporter Lisa Salters when the 2016 NFL season kicks off this fall. The new MNF team will be the first to broadcast the 2016 season with the Hall of Fame game (Green Bay Packers vs. Indianapolis Colts) Sunday, August 7 in Canton, Ohio.
Thursday Night Football (NFL Network, CBS, NBC)
TNF, which debuted on November 23, 2006, has undergone a number of changes since inception. In its current guise, CBS and NBC will split the televised broadcasts of 10 Thursday night NFL games. CBS will broadcast five early games and NBC will broadcast five later games. Both networks will simulcast with the NFL Network. The NFL Network will subsequently solely broadcast the remaining eight games on the NFL Thursday night slate.
Apparently, both CBS and NBC were allowed to cherry pick which TNF games they wanted, as CBS’ early slate does not start until week two and skips a game in week four, before resuming in week five.
As noted above, Tirico is expected to handle the play-by-play duties for the NBC portion of the broadcasts, with Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth expected to do double-duty as the analyst on the five Thursday night games shown by NBC. NBC will also broadcast the NFL’s opening season game Thursday, Sept. 8 between the Carolina Panthers at the Denver Broncos.
CBS has announced no changes to its No. 1 broadcast team that also gets the TNF games: Play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz and color analyst Phil Simms. Tracy Wolfson will continue as sideline reporter.
Sunday Night Football & Football Night in America(NBC)
No changes: Al Michaels continues as the play-by-play announcer for the broadcasts, with Cris Collinsworth as the color commentator and Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter. Additionally, the pre-game (Football Night in America) and in-game studio team of Dan Patrick, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Peter King and Mike Florio are expected to continue. Bob Costas will report and editorialize from the game.
There will be one noticeable change, however. For the first time in 10 years, NBC Sunday Night Football will feature a new theme song: Oh, Sunday Night, by Carrie Underwood.
Sunday NFL Countdown (ESPN)
The four-letter network is now the network of change (buh-bye Bill Simmons, Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann and Jason Whitlock). In addition to rejiggering the MNF lineup, the longtime Sunday morning show will see major changes. Out is analyst Tom Jackson, after 29 years as Chris Berman’s consistent sidekick.
Also gone: smooth-talking, cranky ol’ coach Mike Ditka, Keyshawn “Meshawn” Johnson and “C’mon, Man” Cris Carter. In are recently retired NFL players Charles Woodson and Matt Hasselbeck. Former wide receiver and Fox Sports analyst Randy Moss is also joining the Sunday NFL Countdown team.
Monday Night Countdown (ESPN)
Similar to the Sunday morning program, ESPN’s Monday Night Countown is also jettisoning the same analysts as above (with the exception of Jackson, who was not regularly a part of the Monday evening program).
The lineup will retain Berman as studio host, Suzy Kolber as on-site host, and analysts Steve Young and Trent Dilfer. NFL insiders Chris Mortenson and Adam Schefter will also return. Out is former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, to be replaced by Moss.
FOX NFL Sunday
In a model of rare consistency, the Fox Sunday morning show will make no changes to its lineup. The broadcast will remain the same since Rob Riggle’s addition to replace Frank Caliendo in 2012: Host Curt Menefee, analysts Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, NFL insider Jay Glazer, rules analyst Mike Pereira, and reporters Erin Andrews and Pam Oliver.
Update Tuesday, Aug. 9: Fox Sports announces 2016 lineup of NFL broadcast teams. Each team will include sideline reporters. The big news: Tony Siragusa is out and Chris Spielman is in. Former Carolina Panther and new Washington Redskin cornerback Josh Norman has agreed to join the Fox Sports’ NFL pregame coverage, making a minimum of 10 appearances between Fox NFL Kickoff and Fox NFL Sunday.
NFL Gameday (NFL Network)
The NFL Network’s main Sunday morning show still features Michael Irvin, but his contract is up and he is not expected to return. Still on board: Host Rich Eisen, analysts Steve Mariucci, Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner, and NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. Deion Sanders’ ongoing involvement is unclear. The early morning show, NFL GameDay First, hosted by Melissa Stark and featuring analysts Shaun O’Hara, Michael Robinson, Brian Billick and Jeffri Chadiha, kicks things off.
The NFL Today (CBS)
No changes this year: CBS’ longtime Sunday morning NFL show retains host James Brown and analysts Bill Cowher, Tony Gonzalez, Bart Scott and Boomer Esiason. Deion Sanders will serve as an analyst on Thursdays during the early half of the season.
Other non-changes include the activities of broadcaster Andrew Siciliano, who will remain as the host of NFL Sunday Ticket Red Zone (DirecTV’s Red Zone channel) and the NFL Network’s NFL Total Access.