NBC announced today that two of their newest faces will join the Football Night In America studio this fall: Maria Taylor and Drew Brees.
The move is obviously not a huge surprise in itself; Brees, after all, is widely seen as NBC’s future star NFL analyst, even if he’s starting on the college side this year, calling Notre Dame games alongside Mike Tirico. Taylor, meanwhile, just joined NBC this summer following her exit from ESPN; clearly they see her as a huge part of their sports coverage, and being a part of the Sunday Night Football pregame is the kind of high-profile slot you put top talent in.
Via NBC’s release:
Drew Brees and Maria Taylor are joining Football Night in America — the most-watched studio show in sports — for the 2021 NFL season. Brees, the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV, joins host Mike Tirico and Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy at the desk in Studio 1 at NBC Sports’ International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn. The trio will deliver opinions, analysis and insight about that day’s NFL action, provide highlights of all Sunday games, and look ahead to that night’s Sunday Night Football game.
Maria Taylor will co-host FNIA and often be paired in Studio 1 with former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, who will provide in-depth analysis of the day’s biggest moments. Two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison, who has spent the past 12 seasons in the FNIA studio, will now join co-host Jac Collinsworth at the site of the SNF game every week to capture the excitement of the crowd, provide on-field analysis, and conduct player interviews. NFL Insider Mike Florio will continue to provide reports about the most relevant NFL news of the day.
The only real issue with adding Taylor and Brees: how many people are a part of the broadcast. Clearly both newcomers are worthy additions, but it will be important for NBC to manage the flow of the broadcast. It’s pointless to have people as part of a studio program if they don’t actually get time and space to provide analysis. And stuffing a program too full to accommodate a big crew can also squeeze out the kinds of looser, authentic moments of interplay that help lighten things up for viewers.
But, hey, they clearly have a plan here, and what a move for Maria Taylor specifically; going from the NBA Finals on ESPN to primetime studio NFL work on NBC in the span of a few months is damn impressive.