Yesterday, CBS announced their broadcasting teams for NFL coverage this season. That completes the last piece of the puzzle to the full NFL Week 1 Announcing Schedule, which you can see at the link. I’ve always been fascinated by NFL announcing assignments, not just for who’s assigned to which game and which announcers are moving up or down the ladder, but also because those assignments tell fans what the networks think of your team. If Nantz and Simms are in Cleveland, you get excited that your team gets the national stage instead of seeing Bill Macatee every week, like usual.
Earlier this month, Ryan ran down the NFL On Fox booths and now it’s time to turn our attention to the CBS pairings. There’s no changes at the top, but some interesting comings and goings further down the ladder – namely, the coming of Marv Albert and the going of Gus Johnson. Up and down, CBS’s NFL talent is better than their Fox rivals, but that gap may be closing. Here’s the CBS announcing teams, their rankings, and our thoughts. Keep in mind that CBS also has no sideline reporters.
1) Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
-This is the eighth season Nantz and Simms are together as the #1 announcing team for CBS. Nantz is a much better football play-by-play man than he gets credit for, as it’s often his college basketball puns and Masters worship that draw the most criticsm. Nantz is a pro, shows some excitement, and gets the facts straight while not dominating the broadcast and letting the game tell the story. Simms is actually very similar to Troy Aikman at Fox. Both will have moments where they’re actually insightful, moments where they contradict what they said earlier or guess what’s happening, and moments you completely forget they are in the booth. Simms had his ups and downs last year in the booth, but like broadcast booths around the country, it’s going to take a huge drop in his ability to analyze a game to move him out. With Nantz, a favorite of the CBS hierarchy, this is your #1 CBS booth for the indefinite future.
2) Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf
-I suppose you can give CBS credit for this – they know who their top announcing tandems are. Gumbel and Dierdorf enter their sixth season together at the #2 slot. Like Nantz, Gumbel doesn’t quite receive the plaudits he deserves for his solid job at play-by-play. At least we know he’s much better than his brother at football play-by-play. Interrogating criminals is another matter. Dierdorf is more polarizing. Even though he’s been a national figure for over two decades going back to his MNF days, there are many that wish he’d step aside. Dierdorf is never going to be the best at breaking down plays or providing hard-hitting analysis, but I don’t mind his work for the time being. It’s getting close to the time that CBS looks for some new blood, though.
3) Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
-If you read our NFL Broadcasting Manifesto back in January, you’ll know that AA named this pairing the most underrated in the NFL. Fouts was a laughing stock for his MNF work alongside Dennis Miller, but he has gotten much better over the last decade – first working college football games (even doing play-by-play) and then last year being paired with Ian Eagle. Eagle stepped in for Dick Enberg and provided an immediate lift to coverage by merely staying awake. Really, though, Eagle is a great play-by-play man for a multitude of sports. This personally may be one my favorite Sunday afternoon pairing.
4) Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
-YES!!! I’m juiced to listen to Marv Albert broadcast NFL games on television for the first time this millenium (he has done radio for Westwood One). Marv is simply the best in the business regardless of the sport, and you have to think that CBS’s decision is partly fueled by his successful turn announcing the NCAA Tournament. Marv will be partnered with Rich Gannon, who is rather underwhelming. Come to think of it, I can’t think of much to say positively or negatively about Gannon’s announcing. He moves up the CBS ladder after working with Bill Macatee last year.
I’m surprised CBS didn’t move Marv to their #3 slot ahead of Eagle/Fouts and, as a result, he should get some unspectacular games depending on the week working the #4 game. I would love to see CBS (and Fox for that matter) shake things up every now and then and give great broadcasters like Albert the Game of the Week just to see a little variety instead of the same ol’ same ol’ like we have for the past decade.
5) Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
-This is the pairing that shows CBS’s depth of talent. AA favorite Kevin Harlan, one of the best broadcasters in the country and Westwood One’s Super Bowl announcer, is fifth on the totem pole. Fifth! He could step in and be #2 at Fox tomorrow. Wilcots does a great job analyzing the game as well. He certainly isn’t the biggest name analyst out there, but he knows the game and his steady style complements the enthusiastic Harlan.
6) Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker
-Meh. Seriously, this is about the least imaginative, enthralling announcing booth in NFL network television history. If you replaced Macatee and Tasker with Pat O’Brien and a sideshow dolphin, would anyone even notice? Don’t get me wrong, Tasker and Macatee won’t make me reach for the mute button, but I’m not jumping for joy to see them on my TV screens, either. Why not get creative and go the FanZone route?Now that would be fun:
7) Spero Dedes and Steve Beuerlein
-It’s about time NFL players started to share headlines of offseason arrests and trouble with broadcasters! Fresh off his own run-in with the law, Spero Dedes now takes up more of a full-time gig as an NFL play-by-play man in addition to his new job with the Knicks. Hopefully Dedes doesn’t derail his rising career. At analyst, Steve Beuerlein is at the bottom of the barrel for CBS’s on-air talent. I can never get beyond his painful college football pairing with Criag Bolerjack.
8) Don Criqui and Randy Cross
-If you’d like to take a trip in your own Hot Tub Time Machine, grab Sunday Ticket and check out Don Criqui calling NFL games like it was 1983. He’s joined by the insufferable Randy Cross in spot duty, who was once much higher in the CBS pecking order. If CBS is going to continue to trot out Don Criqui for marquee games like Bills/Bengals, at least bring back Bob Trumpy to go with him!
What do you think of these announcing teams and their rankings? Is CBS truly superior to Fox in terms of NFL announcers? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think.