It might be the middle of June, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the broadcast teams for the 2014 NFL season. After revealing that Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts were moving up the ladder to the network’s #2 slot, the entire lineup has now been announced. And there are several interesting developments and changes happening at the NFL on CBS.
CBS Sports as a network is usually more conservative than others as far as its on-air talent is concerned. Last year for instance, CBS named the exact same broadcast lineup for the NFL as it did in 2012.
Throw that out the window for 2014. Incredibly, all six main broadcast teams for the NFL on CBS will see some kind of change. That’s remarkable to see for any sports rightsholder, especially this one. Here’s the six new broadcast teams that will call NFL games for CBS this year and more thoughts on each one below…
1) Jim Nantz/Phil Simms//Tracy Wolfson
2) Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts
3) Greg Gumbel/Trent Green
4) Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon
5) Spero Dedes/Solomon Wilcots
6) Andrew Catalon/Steve Beuerlein/Steve Tasker
1) Although Nantz and Simms return at the top for CBS, the new developments here are the addition of a full-time sideline reporter in Tracy Wolfson. After going several years without reporters on the sideline, CBS is bringing them back into the fold with Wolfson moving over from SEC coverage. In addition, former NESN reporter Jenny Dell and Evan Washburn are entering the mix as sideline reporters. Nantz, Simms, and Wolfson will work Thursday Night games and some Sundays.
2) The Bird and the Beard is the only team that returns in tact from 2013, but they move one step up the ladder and will even call the #1 Sunday game for CBS when Nantz and Simms take the weekend off. Here’s more thoughts on why this is a well deserved and smart move.
3) After Dan Dierdorf’s retirement, Greg Gumbel moves down a peg and is joined by NFL on CBS newbie Trent Green. The former Chiefs and Rams QB comes over from Westwood One radio.
4) As exclusively reported by AA, Marv Albert stepped down from his NFL on CBS duties. Kevin Harlan moves up to take his spot alongside Rich Gannon, leaving his longtime partnership with Solomon Wilcots.
5) Wilcots is joined in 2014 by Spero Dedes, one of the young announcers on the rise in the industry. Dedes has been working spot duty for the NFL on CBS in recent years and now earns the prestige of a full-time slot. Now Dedes’ decision to step away from his Knicks radio gig “to expand his national presence” makes a lot more sense.
6) Another young play by play announcer getting the full-time call up is Andrew Catalon. This is the second huge national assignment for the voice of Olympic curling, who made this notable gaffe during his first NCAA Tournament. Catalon recovered from that incident and obviously his stock is still on the rise at CBS. It’s also very interesting that CBS is doing something markedly different and moving to a three man booth with Steve & Steve. That will be a dynamic worth following throughout the season as it’s certainly a chance the network is taking.
Additionally, Brian Anderson and Tom McCarthy (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta and Chris Simms (analyst) will be on standby for duty to call games in weeks where more broadcast teams are required. Perhaps we’ll see the first ever father-son tandem call an NFL game together?
To be honest, my first reaction was shock when the NFL on CBS broadcasting teams were announced, just because there is so much turnover from last year. However, it’s a good kind of shock. We’ve advocated for new, fresh voices to be given more opportunities and CBS is letting it ride with several of those younger commentators this year. The addition of Dedes and Catalon, as well as the promotion of Eagle and Fouts, will provide a fresh jolt to the network’s NFL coverage.
Even if all these moves don’t necessarily turn out to be home runs in the long run, I’d much rather see a network take this route than sticking with the status quo just because. Too often sports coverage (and a lot of other things in life) go by the mantra of “doing things the way we’ve always done them, because we’ve always done them that way.”