This week, we asked our staff a simple question: what’s your favorite current NFL broadcast team? The answers weren’t as varied as you may have expected, but at least we didn’t all say the same crew.
Phillip Bupp: I didn’t realize until now, thinking about this question, that I don’t really have strong feelings about any broadcast team. There are definitely some good broadcasters across the league, but I don’t really have a favorite team that’s on the level that I need to watch every week. But I have to pick one, so I’m going with Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon. I like Harlan’s excitement for the game and his way in articulating the action on the fly. Gannon is great at picking his moment to step in and complement Harlan’s play-by-play. They seem to work well together and they don’t really do anything that would make me not like them, so they’re my pick.
Matt Clapp: I’ll go with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts (CBS), and while I have nothing against Fouts, my choice is 100% because of Eagle.
It wouldn’t matter who the color commentator is (of the current ones; not Phil Simms), I’m going with the Ian Eagle team. He simply makes any game more entertaining to me and brings that March Madness flavor to the NFL.
Ben Koo: After a few minutes of gritting my teeth trying to talk myself into an answer, I’m going to go Jim Nantz and Tony Romo. I use to dread Nantz when he was with Phil Simms, who was just unbearable to a degree you rarely see in sports media. I’d say Nantz is a top 5 NFL play by play guy and I’ll just come out and admit I like Tony Romo. I’m partial to how much more knowledgeable and insightful he is compared to other color guys, but I generally just like his goofy energy. He seems totally unconcerned with the normal pitfalls of the job and just kind of blabs, most of which either lands as insightful or funny.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are just the most flavorless A team ever, and Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth are both seemingly coming back to earth after a nice decade on top. I miss Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden a bit, and while some of the secondary teams for both Fox and CBS stick out a bit, I just can’t anoint someone I experience via periodic lookins via a RedZone channel. For me, the jury is still out on Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, and Booger McFarland.
I’m hoping someone like Peyton Manning or Drew Brees takes the plunge at some point, but even if that materializes, things seem pretty bleak on the play by play side.
Joe Lucia: Unless you have Sunday Ticket, you really can’t choose the announcers you’re going to watch. The NFL hands us three primetime games a week and two or three Sunday afternoon games, and you’ll watch what the league and its network partners want you to watch. Thus, some broadcast crews fall under the radar, especially compared to the more prominent ones that show up on TV every damn week.
I think I’m going to give my nod to Fox’s #2 team of Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis. Burkhardt is supremely talented, and even though baseball is his bread and butter, he’s taken to calling the NFL like a fish to water, giving viewers a professional, enthusiastic call while not being overly deferential of the league or negative about much of anything in generation. Davis has transitioned seamlessly from one of Fox’s top college football analysts to one of their top NFL analysts. Many of Fox’s NFL broadcasters have been around for years, and Burkhardt and Davis are a breath of fresh air.
Jay Rigdon: It’s the CBS booth of Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon, and while Gannon is generally fine and insightful, my affection for the duo is rooted much more in my love of Harlan. He’s obviously a fantastic basketball announcer, as we’re reminded of quite often during March Madness and Turner NBA broadcasts, but his football work is great as well. Harlan makes run of the mill games feel like marquee events, he’s dynamic in the best ways for big moments while dialing it back for more quiet periods, and he always feels like he’s complementing the game, not like he’s trying to overpower it or steer it to fit a narrative.
Plus he’s fun, as his radio calls of fans on the field have shown. Harlan is just never a bad listen, no matter how bad the game may be.