Andrew Whitworth on Prime Video's Thursday Night Football in 2022. Andrew Whitworth on Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football in 2022. (Amazon.)

Andrew Whitworth is heading into his second season as a pregame/halftime/postgame analyst for Prime Video’s coverage of Thursday Night Football, but he’s a little unusual there. Like fellow analysts Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tony Gonzalez, and Richard Sherman, Whitworth had an impressive playing career, suiting up for the LSU Tigers from 2001-05 (including winning a national title in the 2003-04 season) and then spending 16 seasons in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams (winning a Super Bowl with the latter in February 2022). But Whitworth played offensive tackle, a position it’s far less common to see on a network’s top game-adjacent studio show.

Yes, there have been some offensive linemen who have gone on to notable work as game analysts. Those include Mark Schlereth and Anthony Muñoz on a national level (John Madden also played on the offensive line in college, as did some other coaches turned analysts, but those analyst jobs were more about their past coaching work) and many figures on more local levels. And there have been some offensive linemen who have regularly appeared on studio programming, including current ESPN analyst Damien Woody and past ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday.

But offensive linemen have been relatively rare on top studio shows over the years. That’s starting to change, though, as we discussed with NFLN’s hire of Joe Thomas in 2019. And there seems to be more momentum growing around offensive linemen as prominent personalities commenting on the NFL, from Thomas (who had a podcast with Andrew Hawkins at Uninterrupted  before he got the NFLN role) to the not-retired Taylor Lewan (still hosting Bussin’ With The Boys for Barstool Sports) to noted podcaster and new documentary star (in a documentary also on Prime Video) Jason Kelce.

Thus, it was notable when Whitworth was added to Prime Video’s coverage ahead of Amazon’s first season of exclusive NFL broadcasts last year. And it’s significant that he’s back for another season despite a lot of talk last year that NFL teams might try to bring him back to playing.

On a season preview conference call with the NFL on Prime studio team Wednesday ahead of their debut game Thursday (Minnesota Vikings-Philadelphia Eagles, kicking off at 8:15 p.m. ET with pregame coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET with TNF Tonight), AA asked Whitworth about this rise in offensive linemen as notable commentators. There, he said he thinks offensive linemen have always had a lot to contribute to the media discussion. But he thinks that’s starting to be realized more now.

“I think people’s eyes are being opened to maybe to the game a little bit more. I think that the perception of what offensive linemen do and what they know of offense and defense is probably a little misunderstood. I think that especially in this game today, I mean, some of the centers I’ve played with, for example, and Jason [Kelce] would be a great example of that, their understanding of the game of football, from the complexities of what defensive structures are, to what it takes to play successful defense and then also offensively understanding what they’re looking for, you know, from identifications of different defenses and how all the intricacies of an offense they have to understand.”

Whitworth said while many quarterbacks get tabbed for post-career media roles, he thinks there are lots of linemen who have just as much insight to offer.

“I’ve met a lot of quarterbacks, no offense to Ryan, there’s a lot of great intelligent quarterbacks and it takes a tremendous skill,” he said. “But I know a lot of centers that know a lot of football, even more than…maybe your premium quarterbacks, maybe they know more, but there’s some centers out there that probably understand football from that perspective almost better than anyone. I played with a guy, John Sullivan, that could have installed everything we ever did on offense. The guy was unbelievably intelligent. And so I think it’s fun just to see some offense along with the voice.”

Whitworth thinks Lewan is responsible for some of that shift in the perception of lineman.

“I always give credit to Taylor Lewan for that. I thought when he came in as a rookie and started jumping on networks and doing things–as crazy as he is, and he’s all over the place–he really opened the door a lot for you, seeing way more and more, way more offensive lineman and being willing to do it. And I think really, it was for the people to see, ‘Hey, they can talk ball, they can be entertaining, they can have fun.'”

But Whitworth said coaches and veterans often discouraged offensive linemen from talking to the media early in his career, and that may have factored into how few of them then got the chance for post-career media roles.

“You also have to look at the nature of our position, from the first half of my career to all the guys who played before me. You were taught never speak, never do an interview, reject anybody that asks you a media question, run away from cameras. Your offensive line coach would literally tell you like you’ll get punished, you’ll get fined, you’ll run, you’ll do all these things if you speak to the media–you never draw attention to yourself. So those guys were ingrained to never talk and never speak about the game they love and play, which I think is crazy.”

And he said he’s thrilled to see that changing.

“So I am really excited to see the Jason Kelces, the Taylor Lewans, all the different guys across the spectrum that now are getting involved in the game and being able to talk about something they love and they do and play at a high level. Because I think they have something great to bring to the game from a very different perspective. I think we’re much more than just the big uglies that we’re known as, and I think people are going to find that out over time.”

Prime Video’s pregame coverage for Thursday Night Football will start at 7 p.m. ET Thursday., with the game set for an 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.