ESPN sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein during action between Penn State and Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio on September 23, 2006. Ohio State won 28-6. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images)

Not long after word got out that CBS had hired newly retired Tony Romo to replace Phil Simms as color commentator on the network’s No. 1 broadcast team, former sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein expressed her displeasure.

Bernstein worked for CBS for eight years alongside Simms and Jim Nantz, so it’s natural that she feels strongly about this subject. And in an interview published Friday, she elaborated on those thoughts to The MMQB’s Kalyn Kahler.

Being a TV network’s top analyst is like reaching Mount Olympus for an NFL color guy. There are four of those positions in existence, right? Four. While this isn’t quantum physics, it is a really difficult job with a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure and more than anything, I was just sticking up for all of the really talented former players and coaches I know, who have been busting their tails and would give anything for that gig. I tried to make that clear, but there is only so much you can do with 140 characters.

If you watch, you’ll notice how much responsibility analysts have. There are replays after nearly every play, highlight packages, and as many specialty elements as they can jam in. This is all going on while you have a producer talking in your ear, so you can be the smartest, most articulate, charismatic guy out there, but there is no substitute for reps and experience. It’s really not unlike football, it just takes awhile for the job to become instinctual. Tony is obviously very articulate on camera, he has an incredible story of being an undrafted free agent, and I’m sure he will unpack this new opportunity with the tenacity he did with football. Again, this is no slight against him at all. It’s just that, being in this industry for 20 years, and having eight years worth of play-by-play guys and color guys in my ear, I know it is not something you can snap your fingers and do to perfection.

Bernstein, who recently launched a production company, emphasized that she likes Romo and thinks he will be good at his new gig but feels it’s unfair that he got a job over dozens of others who have been striving for positions like his for years.

She also pointed out that while other former players have been hired to high-profile positions without direct experience, most of them at least had some kind of broadcast experience.

It’s funny because a lot of people countered my point with, well, Phil [Simms] had no experience and he started on the ‘A’ crew for NBC, Jon Gruden had no experience and his first gig was on Monday Night Football. First of all, Phil did studio work for ESPN. He did get some live reps, albeit in a different setting. Each of those guys, and even Troy [Aikman] really, when he started out with Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnson on the ‘B’ crew, they were all in a three-man booth. Phil was with Dick Enberg and Paul McGuire, and Gruden was with Jaws [Ron Jaworksi]. The luxury there is that the new guy has the freedom to interject where he is most comfortable without having to carry the entire load. It really gives him the path to ease his way into taking on more responsibility while still learning on the job.

Without question, Romo is about as under-qualified as broadcasters come. CBS is betting that his talent will be enough to overcome his inexperience, but it’s very fair for Bernstein and others in the business to see that as unjust.

[The MMQB]

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.