We’ve seen lots of broadcasters working remotely these past months, including some on high-profile national games, from Mike “Doc” Emrick on the NHL (including the Stanley Cup Final) to Marv Albert on national NBA on TNT games to Kirk Herbstreit on the Sugar Bowl and Florida State-Miami. The latest one who may wind up following that trend is NFL on CBS analyst Tony Romo. Romo missed last week’s Cardinals-Rams game due to COVID-19 protocols, with Boomer Esiason filling in (and creating controversy with his remarks on Chris Streveler). But Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported Tuesday that Romo may wind up calling CBS’ Bears-Saints playoff game remotely this coming Sunday:
CBS and Tony Romo may use the “Kirk Herbstreit” remote model this Sunday for its late afternoon wild card game between the Saints and the Bears, The Post has learned.
Romo had to miss last Sunday’s game due to COVID protocols. He may be restricted from traveling from his Dallas home to New Orleans on Sunday.
…While a final decision has not been made on Romo, CBS would have a similar setup [to Herbstreit’s] at his home or a local studio. Just as ESPN play-by-player Chris Fowler was on site for the semifinal, Nantz would be in New Orleans for Bears-Saints.
While remote broadcasts have sometimes seen some technical issues, they’ve generally worked pretty well. There are some drawbacks versus the normal model of having both play-by-play commentators and color analysts on site, but remote approaches have allowed for increased safety for older broadcasters like Emrick and Albert, and have made it possible for younger broadcasters like Herbstreit (and now, perhaps Romo) to still call games after COVID-19 exposures and positive tests.
And given how popular Romo is on NFL on CBS broadcasts (there’s a reason ESPN tried to grab him earlier this year, and a reason CBS spent $17.5 million per year to keep him), it certainly would seem to make sense to try and find a way to have him still call this game. And that’s especially true with this being a playoff game and thus having even more eyes on it. There likely wasn’t enough time to set this up ahead of last week’s game, which is why CBS wound up bringing in Esiason instead, but with more of a leadup, it feels like they could make this work if Romo isn’t able to call Sunday’s game in person. We’ll see if they wind up doing this.
UPDATE: Tony Romo will indeed call the Bears-Saints game remotely, according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.