Good Morning Football NFL Network Screen grab: ‘Good Morning Football’

For most of its first 13 years of existence, the NFL Network was largely supplemental viewing for football fans.

Sure, there was a stretch where you needed it — or at least needed to find a bar that had it — to watch Thursday Night Football. But by and large, the network ultimately existed for football fans who needed more than the traditional networks’ coverage of the league.

That, however, changed in 2016 with the launch of Good Morning Football.

Despite airing on a league network, GMFB — then hosted by Kay Adams, Nate Burleson, Kyle Brandt and Peter Schrager — defied the odds and became the people’s show. Rather than relying on hot takes and embracing debate, the NFL Network’s first signature show has managed to have thoughtful and fun conversations about football, and has done so largely from the perspective of the fan.

While the show has undergone some changes — Jamie Erdahl and Jason McCourty have replaced the departing Adams and Burleson in recent years — its popularity has remained. So it was curious when the NFL Network announced major upcoming changes to the program on Wednesday, including a move from New York to Los Angeles, which resulted in several questions regarding the status of the show moving forward.

Most notably, there has yet to be any word on what the move means for Brandt, Schrager, Erdahl and McCourty. While addressing the subject of the move on Thursday’s episode, Brandt only referred to the status of the show and not its hosts.

“Contrary to some oddly worded tweets and ensuing confusion, Good Morning Football is not ending. Good Morning Football —  the show, the brand — is going to continue for a very long time,” Brandt said. “It’s expanding. More, bigger, brighter. You don’t end things that just passed 1,800 episodes. You don’t end things that has a trophy on the shelf that literally says ‘best show.’

“You don’t end things that elicit the kinds of reactions that were coming out yesterday when people were a little confused and tweeting things like, ‘You’re the only thing that gets me through my mornings’ and ‘How am I supposed to start my day?’ You start it with us. You’re going to have to wait a little while. It’s going to be a little bit different. And then it’s going to be right back to lead block. Got it? Thank you. Love you.”

When it comes to the cast, perhaps that’s something that’s still being worked through. Or maybe there is still another announcement to come. But if it was already decided that the current hosts would be moving to Los Angeles with the show, that’s something he presumably would have reassured viewers of. And The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch noted that while the entire cast has been asked to return, the decision “was a surprise to everyone” involved with the show.

Also curious is the news that GMFB will be going on a hiatus on March 29 and won’t return until its move to the West Coast is complete around the start of the NFL’s preseason. That will leave the show off the air for several offseason milestones, including the NFL Draft and the league’s annual schedule release.

When the show relaunches in the summer, there will also be a two-hour syndicated extension series. Details of the extension are currently sparse.

But despite the oddly-timed hiatus and upcoming extension series, the biggest question remains who will be hosting the show when it returns? While the program has already shown the ability to withstand the departures of stars like Adams and Burleson, a complete — or even partial — overhaul of the current cast would risk the most crucial ingredient to GMFB‘s success.

Viewers might be willing to overlook missing the draft or minicamps, but a Good Morning Football that returns without its cast — particularly Brandt and/or Schrager — would be Good Morning Football in name only. At least as far as the original iteration of the show is concerned.

That’s not to say the success of GMFB can’t outlive its cast. But we’re going to need some more details before buying that the LA-version of the show will merely be bigger and better than the current one.

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.