Ever since Sean Payton and Drew Brees joined forces in New Orleans, the Saints have put together one of the best offenses in NFL history. Brees will likely pass Peyton Manning this year to become the all-time leader in career passing yards and has set countless other records along the way. More importantly, it’s been the most successful era in Saints franchise history with the team winning Super Bowl XLIV and achieving more 10 win seasons and playoff appearances (6) since 2006 than they had in their previous 39 seasons.
One of the mainstays of the Saints offense was offensive tackle Zach Strief. After being drafted in the 7th round in 2006, Strief became a rock-solid starter on one of the best lines in football, starting 94 games over the course of his career. After injuries saw him sidelined for much of the 2017 season, Strief announced his retirement in March.
And like many of his fellow former players, Strief is transitioning into a career in media following his playing days. But it’s in a role that is incredibly unique. Strief was named as the new radio play-by-play voice for the Saints taking over for longtime announcer Jim Henderson. His broadcast partner will be a Pro Bowl running back that he blocked for in New Orleans, Deuce McAllister.
Via the Saints official website:
Entercom, the unrivaled leader in sports radio, announced the appointment of Zach Strief to the role of play-by-play announcer on WWL (WWL-AM), the flagship station of the New Orleans Saints. Strief, who played offensive tackle for the Saints from 2006-2017, will join former teammate Deuce McAllister in the booth.
“When we set the criteria for the new ‘Voice of the Saints’ we were looking for someone who would make the professional play calls, as well as someone who has a deep connection to the team, the fans and our community,” said Chris Wegmann, senior vice president and market manager, Entercom New Orleans. “Zach possesses all of those qualities, knows the game first-hand and is a fixture in the New Orleans community. We’re very excited about adding him to the team.”
“I’m thrilled about the opportunity and humbled by the faith WWL and the Saints have in me,” added Strief. “I also want all Saints fans to know I will work tirelessly to bring you the best game day experience possible. Nobody will work harder to live up to the expectations of Saints fans.”
This is fascinating because across professional sports there are very few former players that step into play-by-play roles as opposed to being a traditional game or studio analyst. We have seen it time to time in the NBA when Turner Sports does their Players Only telecasts, but those individuals are still full-time analysts and aren’t tasked with giving traditional play-by-play. Of course, one of the most famous and accomplished play-by-play announcers first made a name for himself as a player in the NFL in Pat Summerall, who was a kicker for the New York Giants.
Strief is well-respected and well-liked by Saints fans and everyone associated with the team. And with his presence as an integral part of so many successful Saints teams over the years, there’s an immediate connection with the fanbase that he’ll be reaching on the radio. It’ll be fascinating to see how Strief adapts and grows into the role as a play-by-play man and equally as intriguing to see if others in the NFL will consider following in his footsteps.