On Monday, Fox Sports announced their broadcaster pairings for the 2021 NFL season. Most of the lineup had already been known (especially after the hiring of Mark Sanchez was reported and later announced last month), but it’s still good to have some overall clarity.
The top Sunday broadcast team remains (to the shock of no one) the duo of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Erin Andrews will be the reporter for the pairing, while Tom Rinaldi joins the trio for all of Fox’s America’s Game of the Week broadcasts. The Buck/Aikman/Andrews trio will again call Thursday Night Football for Fox, and Kristina Pink will be the second reporter for those games.
Kevin Burkhardt’s new partner this season will be the recently-retired Greg Olsen, an assignment announced back in January. Their regular reporter will be Pam Oliver.
The duos of Adam Amin and Mark Schlereth and Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma both return for the 2021 season. Shannon Spake will work with Amin and Schlereth, and Albert and Vilma will be joined by either Sara Walsh or Lindsay Czarniak, who will share the reporting work this season.
Chris Myers has a new partner this season, though it’s a familiar face to both him and NFL on Fox viewers – Daryl Johnston, who worked with Burkhardt last season following Charles Davis’ departure to CBS. Jennifer Hale will be on the sidelines for the Myers and Johnston duo.
As previously reported, Kevin Kugler’s partner this season is Mark Sanchez, following Chris Spielman’s exit from the booth last year and into the Detroit Lions front office. Laura Okmin is the reporter working with this pair.
And finally, in the news you’ve all been waiting for, Gus Johnson makes his long-awaited return to NFL game calling in those crowded weeks for Fox, calling games with Aqib Talib. Megan Olivi will be the sideline reporter for those games.
Mike Pereira and Dean Blandino will once again work as rules analysts, and Joe Davis will also get some play by play work over the season. As for the pregame shows, Fox NFL Sunday remains unchanged (Curt Menefee hosts and is joined by Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, and insider Jay Glazer), while Fox NFL Kickoff has just one change. Tony Gonzalez left Fox last month, and Charles Woodson will replace him on the set. Charissa Thompson returns as host, along with Colin Cowherd, Cooper Manning (the one Manning ESPN couldn’t hire, I guess), Peter Schrager, Michael Vick, and Dave Wannstedt.
Here’s the rundown of the broadcast crews for the 2021 season.
- Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Tom Rinaldi (AGOTW), Kristina Pink (TNF)
- Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Pam Oliver
- Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake
- Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Sara Walsh/Lindsay Czarniak
- Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Jennifer Hale
- Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
- Gus Johnson, Aqib Talib, Megan Olivi
Here are your changes from last year…
- Rinaldi has a defined role on Sundays after joining Fox in January.
- Olsen replaces Johnston with Burkhardt.
- Spake is the new reporter working with Amin and Schlereth (she worked with Albert and Vilma last season).
- Czarniak (Amin/Schlereth) and Walsh (“additional”) are the new reporters working with Albert and Vilma.
- Johnston replaces Greg Jennings and Brock Huard with Myers.
- Sanchez replaces Spielman with Kugler.
- Johnson joins the fray following Dick Stockton’s retirement.
A year ago, the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 college football season resulted in some of Fox’s college broadcasters getting more NFL work, including Huard, Tim Brando, Brandon Gaudin, Brady Quinn, Matt Millen, and Robert Smith.
All in all, Fox’s changes aren’t all that overwhelming (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Olsen and Sanchez are the only new faces in the broadcast booth for Fox, and the roles for Talib and Rinaldi expand a bit after cameos last season. Johnson’s addition is the big headline maker, but fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for Johnson calling many games – after all, he’s still the primary voice of Fox’s college football coverage, and it’s hard to see him pulling double duty this season. The 506’s handy grid schedule of network assignments for the 2021 season reveals just four weeks where Fox has more than six Sunday games (Weeks 2, 3, 17 and 18), and it would be a surprise if Johnson called more than four NFL games this season.