Ahead of the 2022 NFL on Fox kickoff Sunday, Fox Sports’ Chris Myers spoke to AA about his time with the network and his time on the NFL. Myers joined Fox in December 1998 after a decade at ESPN, and he’s worked in a wide variety of roles for them across the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, college football, the Westminster Dog Show, and much more. 2022 will mark his 15th season as a full-time NFL on Fox play-by-play voice, and he’ll be working with analyst Robert Smith there. Myers said this NFL season provides even more juice than usual for him thanks to Fox broadcasting the Super Bowl.
“We’re always excited when the season starts about which games we’re covering, who’s where, and what kind of teams and star power are out there that we’ll see in the playoffs. And this year, Fox has more postseason games and then, of course, the Super Bowl.”
He said each NFL season is special, but the Super Bowl ones particularly stand out to him.
“Any time Fox has a Super Bowl game at the end of the year, there’s an extra kind of excitement,” Myers said. “As a broadcaster, you’re excited anyway when the NFL rolls around, with it being the giant that it is. But there’s a little added something when your network has the ultimate game at the end of the year.”
Myers has done plenty of Super Bowl work for Fox over the years, particularly with sideline reporting. But he said he tries to treat every broadcast like the Super Bowl.
“I have a corny saying; when I started in broadcasting, I’d always say ‘Every night’s the Super Bowl.’ They’d always teach me about that. And to me, I say that, because no matter what game you’re doing or event, the different things I’ve done with Fox, it’s going to be the most important thing, because it is for the people watching. No matter if it’s the Super Bowl or it’s a preseason game or the start of the third game of the season without contenders. …And Fox has the people behind you, the team behind you, to give you a chance in the games that really matter.”
He said that approach has led to some jokes from famed Fox producers like Richard Zyontz, though.
“Richie Zyontz, who is producing another Super Bowl for Fox this year, when I did the Super Bowl sideline reporting, those were the last words he said to me before kickoff. ‘Chris, you always say every night’s the Super Bowl. Now it is.'”
And Myers said the stage of the Super Bowl did get to him once, at Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 (where the Patriots beat the Eagles 24-21). That was his first Super Bowl as a sideline reporter, and it led to him briefly freezing at one point.
“I’d done all this other interviewing in games, but the Super Bowl is different, when you’re with the broadcaster of the game and part of the team. So I’m interviewing Troy Brown live right before kickoff, and Zyontz said ‘Hey, just be quick and be brief and get a comment from him,’ and as they’re counting down, I tell Troy Brown ‘Hey, I know you’ve got a game to play,’ and I could feel his energy, he was a key player for the Patriots. And I say ‘No need to be nervous, I’m just going to ask you a couple of questions real quick, even though there are millions watching.'”
“And I’m telling him ‘This is the most-watched event,’ and as I’m telling him, I’m starting to get nervous. And they threw down to me, ‘Okay, Chris, go,’ and I froze, and they’re in my ear like ‘Chris! Chris!’ And Troy Brown had to like, smack me with his shoe to be like ‘Chris, let’s go!’ And then I went like, ‘Oh, yeah, hey, this is a big game!’ I don’t even remember what I asked him. So after that moment, it was the old thing you learn in broadcast school, you’re speaking to one person even if you’re speaking to millions.”
The Patriots hold some further Super Bowl memories for Myers. He said 2017’s Super Bowl LI in Houston was particularly notable for the New England sideline energy ahead of their famed comeback.
“When the Patriots came back from 28-3 against Atlanta, I had to work that sideline, and it was Erin Andrews on the other sideline. You could see Bill Belichick didn’t want to talk at the half, the Patriots were getting their butts kicked. But what stood out about that was I saw the sense of quiet confidence. There was some excitement and anger, with the way they were losing to the Falcons, but the way…it’s almost like they knew ‘As long as there’s some time on the clock, we’re not worried about the score. We have a plan. We’re going to get these guys.’ I don’t think anybody else was thinking that.”
He said that broadcast also led to one of his most memorable post-game interviews, where he fought through a sea of media to get to Tom Brady.
“Usually, you try to get a quick in-the-moment live post-game interview, and that was one of the most challenging I’d ever done, because I had to fight through the crowd. It was like trying to swim through people. I had a security person with me, he got knocked over. But I got there, and Zyontz was like, ‘Hey, we gotta go,’ and I didn’t even see the camera, and I didn’t want to hang Brady out, because he was exhausted, he didn’t even want to do it, but I just said ‘Hey, Tom, we’re live on Fox,’ and when I said that, I figured he’d at least talk.”
Myers said that in-the-moment interview wound up being well worth it, and for him, it illustrates the importance of getting those interviews before trophy presentations and cooling-off time.
“And what was special was obviously the comeback, but it was also a few years after Deflategate, and his mother had battled illness through a stretch of time that year, so there was a lot of emotion, and the greatest comeback ever in the Super Bowl. I do think it’s important, whether in the booth or on the field, to get that interview as quick as you can afterwards, because then you feel, winning or losing, the raw emotion of the moment. You can’t replace that. …There’s something special for a viewing audience to see that, after something like this.”
As for this year’s Super Bowl LVII, set to be held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ in February, Myers said that brings back memories of the stadium for him. In particular, it makes him think of the Patriots’ loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII in 2008.
“This stadium in Glendale, AZ, I was the sideline reporter for the Patriots when they were almost the perfect team,” Myers said. “I had to interview Bill Belichick, who really wasn’t thrilled to be interviewed.”
But it also brings back memories of the January 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, where he was on the broadcast of Boise State’s famed 43-42 win over Oklahoma.
“In that building also, this is a college football note, I was the sideline reporter at the Fiesta Bowl in 2007 when Boise State upset Oklahoma in overtime. And at the time, those were the BCS days, and Fox hadn’t had a lot of college football, we just did that. But they had the hook and ladder, the Statue of Liberty to win that game, and Ian Johnson ran in the two-point conversion, and then proposed to the cheerleader. And I took some heat for ruining the surprise, but he froze in the moment. I had to help him through it.”
“So that building in Glendale has been a really cool stadium for Fox. And there’s a picture of that Oklahoma-Boise State game that’s up on the fifth floor at Fox, a giant framed picture with some of the other notable moments that Fox has broadcast, that says something like ‘College football doesn’t get any better than this.'”
As for doing NFL play-by-play for 15 years, Myers said he’s loved having that opportunity.
“The rush of an NFL game, I’ve got to tell you. I’ve always loved events and interviewing athletes and coaches and people in and around sports, but there’s really nothing like the NFL. I guess it’s my first love, growing up around football and the NFL. The rush of calling a NFL game, I felt this even before it became America’s most popular sport, there’s really nothing like it. You prepare, but there’s such unpredictability and such star power. And the size of the audience, and the fan reaction, to me, that’s one of the great things. And really, that’s one of the reasons I went to Fox; there were a lot of different jobs to do, and it took a while before I could get that opportunity, so I still cherish that.
On those different jobs, Myers said he thinks his versatility is a virtue, and it’s shown up in particular runs like the one he had from 2008-09.
“I love all sports for the reasons that we are fans, and I’m thankful that Eric Shanks, through the years, has allowed me to cross over and be there and do these things. One year, in 2008, it’s funny, when you’re going through it, you don’t think about it. Fox put me on, I was the World Series reporter, and the Phillies won the World Series. I was then the college football sideline reporter when LSU won, they beat Ohio State in the BCS championship in January. And then in February, I covered the Super Bowl with the Patriots, and then hosted the Daytona 500 with NASCAR, and that was the year Ryan Newman won for Roger Penske. So to have that, as a sports fan and someone who works in sports broadcasting, to have that opportunity to be at a network that has all those things, I think you’d be foolish if you didn’t want to do that.”
He said that versatility served him well during the COVID-19 pandemic, too, as he wound up unexpectedly filling in a few times thanks to COVID absences.
“We had a situation during the pandemic, when Curt Menafee and Charissa Thompson couldn’t make it into the studio, so I had to host the NFL pre-game show. And when Kevin Burkhardt had an illness during the All-Star Game in San Diego a few years ago, I got called to step in off the bench and host that. I think that shows the trust that Fox has in me, and the fact that I have been able to do those things along the way, I’m ready if they need me.”
As for how the NFL on Fox has evolved in his 15 years of play-by-play, Myers said he appreciates how easy it is to prepare for different teams these days.
“I think technology has really helped us do a better job of being up on all the stories and information that’s out there, especially when you’re covering two teams each week that aren’t your home team. You can follow along as if you were there. That’s evolved, I think, that really has enhanced it. And from that standpoint also, we can get coaches’ video that we can watch on our computers, we can watch old games, we can watch the players more so than when you had to set it up on your TV set. You can just get the video on your iPad or computer to watch as you’re preparing for the game. So that’s really helped.”
But he said the greatest benefit at the moment is the return of in-person production meetings, after pandemic restrictions made those remote-only.
“The common thread, the most important thing, and we really missed this—we were doing the best we during the pandemic, but nothing beats being at the practice and sitting face-to-face [with players and coaches]. We refer to them as production meetings, and we sit there when the cameras aren’t rolling, and the players and coaches know that and trust that. And an advantage I’ve had from being a sideline reporter through those years is to build up closer contacts with players, coaches, assistant coaches so they trust you to tell you things that can help you out on a broadcast.”
“Like ‘If this guy’s not in the game, here’s why, you’re going to have to phrase it your own way.’ Or even something for our director, who’s in the meeting; ‘Hey, if this guy lines up at this spot at this point of the game, we’re going to try a fake punt.’ They trust you with that. Some coaches obviously are more cooperative than others. But I don’t know that they say that over a Zoom or a phone conversation. That’s the benefit of face-to-face.”
Myers has worked with a number of different analysts over the years, including Daryl “Moose” Johnston last year and the combination of Greg Jennings and Brock Huard in 2020. This year, he’ll be working with Robert Smith, and he said he’s excited for that opportunity.
“I’ve enjoyed in the past working with Daryl Johnston, Moose, he’s been moving back and forth and helping the network in different positions, I’ve enjoyed working with Ronde Barber before, and Greg Jennings and Brock Huard, but Robert Smith brings a little bit of a different angle. He’s a guy who played years ago at a high level, he was a Pro Bowler, and also stepped away and did some college, but has followed the NFL very closely. So I look forward to it. And he’s eager to learn at this juncture still.”
Myers said he briefly got to work with Smith while Smith was a pandemic NFL fill-in before, and the chemistry they established there and Smith’s enthusiasm for the NFL game has him excited for working together more this season.
“He filled in on NFL games during the pandemic. He’s done some college football, and he filled in on a NFL game, and it was very refreshing, because he was excited to get to do a NFL game and be back in the pro level. And the chemistry was terrific. The first game, we had all kinds of travel issues, trying to coordinate our meeting, but he was excited to be there. And I’m excited to do every game; this never gets old to me, the fan in you never leaves you.”
He said he’s also intrigued to hear what football insights Smith has to offer.
“The analysts at Fox, they coach us on football, on the latest innovations or adjustments or personnel that we need to be up on top of it. So I’m excited about it.”
Myers said a big part of what makes the NFL on Fox broadcasts work well is the staff they have behind the scenes, too.
“And from a Fox standpoint, we’ve always had, and I’ve noticed having worked at another place, our producers, our director, our audio engineer, the quality of these guys and how much they care about their job really enhances what we do. You hear things with a mic down in a game that maybe you wouldn’t hear on the air, but maybe during a commercial break, we’ll replay that (for the announcers) and say ‘Maybe that’s something we can reference.’ We have that kind of support. And when you get to the postseason at Fox, and to the Super Bowl, you have the best of the best already doing that. So you’re going to get the quality pictures and replays, and even the officiating aspect of the game that fans care about, ‘How did that happen?’, we’ll get all the angles we can. So this all I think has improved over time at Fox.”
And he said in 2022, they’re committed to their practice of constantly getting better while still keeping things fun.
“There’s an expression of a Fox attitude. Every network has their mantra. Here at Fox, it’s always been the game is the thing, do the game, but also enjoy it, have fun with the analyst in the booth as if it’s two guys talking football, but don’t go over the top with it so you lose the audience. …Every year when we have our Fox football seminar, we go over those things a little bit, and Eric Shanks, our man in charge, wants us to think about how we can make it better without spoiling what we’ve accomplished over the years at the NFL on Fox.”
[Photos courtesy of Fox Sports]