On Sunday, Kevin Burkhardt will call his first Super Bowl for Fox Sports. His rise through the ranks to this milestone has largely flown under the radar, but with nearly a decade in the books at Fox, it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t deserve the spot.
Burkhardt is the first play-by-play announcer not named Joe Buck, Al Michaels, or Jim Nantz to call a Super Bowl in nearly two decades (Greg Gumbel called Super Bowl XXXVIII for CBS in 2004), and the first play-by-play announcer other than Buck or Pat Summerall to call a Super Bowl for Fox since the company nabbed an NFL package nearly 30 years ago.
He came into the mainstream consciousness through his work as an on-field reporter for the Mets at SNY. Burkhardt was widely appreciated by Mets fans, occasionally filling in for play-by-play broadcaster Gary Cohen and getting national work with Fox. In 2013, just before the launch of FS1, Burkhardt joined Fox and was tabbed to call NFL games alongside John Lynch. The Burkhardt and Lynch duo wasn’t initially high on Fox’s pecking order, serving as the network’s #4 team behind Buck and Troy Aikman, the “Kenny, Moose, and Goose” trio of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa, and Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick.
But as the season rolled along, Burkhardt and Lynch impressed. The pair got a Divisional playoff game in their first year together, an incredible vote of confidence from the network. Following that game, Burkhardt began to host Fox’s MLB studio coverage and occasionally called college basketball, also leaving his SNY role for a full-time gig at Fox. In their second NFL season together, Burkhardt and Lynch shot up the ladder and were named Fox’s #2 NFL team, though he did take a month off in October for the MLB Postseason. After the 2014 NFL season, AA’s readers ranked Burkhardt and Lynch as the NFL’s #3 broadcast team, behind the duos of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts.
2015 was more of the same for Burkhardt: he continued calling NFL games with Lynch, and continued hosting Fox’s MLB studio coverage (now with Pete Rose in the fold). The Burkhardt and Lynch duo continued on into 2016, and during the MLB Postseason, he served as the straight man during the Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose studio gong show.
But heading into 2017, the winds of change were blowing. Lynch was hired by the 49ers as their new general manager. Fox was initially interested in Tony Romo to replace Lynch, but when he signed with CBS, they ended up hiring Jay Cutler. But Cutler didn’t even end up calling a game for Fox, heading back to the NFL and the Miami Dolphins. Fox originally planned for Cutler to form a trio with Burkhardt and Charles Davis, but his about-face left the network with a pairing of Burkhardt and Davis. And you know what? It worked out quite well! The Burkhardt and Davis duo was well-liked as Fox’s #2 team, and even welcomed a guest analyst to the booth in Week 11: injured Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.
There was also change on the baseball side of things for Burkhardt. Fox let Rose go at the end of the summer following an allegation of sexual misconduct, replacing him with Keith Hernandez and David Ortiz. The new studio show grabbed far fewer headlines, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. In 2018, Ortiz was permanently added to the trio of Burkhardt, Rodriguez, and Frank Thomas, which prevails to this day.
After Fox nabbed the rights to Thursday Night Football in 2018, Burkhardt and Davis were heavily rumored to be calling the package for the network. However, Fox ended up going with the #1 team of Buck and Aikman after being turned down by Peyton Manning. In the 2018 edition of our NFL announcer rankings, Burkhardt and Davis ranked fifth, behind Jim Nantz and Romo, Michaels and Collinsworth, Eagle and Fouts, and Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon.
2019 was also more of the same. Burkhardt and Davis ranked sixth in our NFL announcer rankings, slipping behind Buck and Aikman despite having the same score as they did in 2018. However, the pair did add a feather in their caps in February – they called Super Bowl LIV for the NFL Films World Feed, which they’d repeat for Super Bowl LV and Super Bowl LVI.
Fox’s NFL broadcast lineup got a shakeup in 2020 when Davis left for CBS, where he was paired with Eagle. That summer, Olsen signed a deal with Fox for his post-playing career, which would team him with Burkhardt. With Olsen still playing, Burkhardt worked with Johnston in 2020, and the pair ranked fifth in our NFL announcer rankings (jumping ahead of Buck and Aikman from 2019).
Olsen retired after the 2020 season and officially joined Fox, working with Burkhardt in 2021. After a promising debut season, the NFL broadcasting carousel kicked into high gear in 2022, with Buck and Aikman leaving Fox for ESPN. Joe Davis replaced Buck as Fox’s lead MLB voice (with Burkhardt remaining the primary studio host) and the Burkhardt and Olsen duo was promoted to the top spot at the network
However, a problem quickly popped up for the Burkhardt and Olsen duo. In May, Tom Brady signed a gigantic deal with Fox that would see him join the company’s broadcast booth when he retired – and he’d be working with Burkhardt. Fox’s new #1 broadcast team was already on borrowed time.
As he said he would over the summer, Olsen did indeed “make it as hard as hell” for Brady to replace him. His work with Burkhardt in 2022 received positive reviews, though they only ranked sixth in our NFL announcer rankings, released in January.
Burkhardt’s rise through the ranks at Fox has felt natural. When the company brought him in and paired him with Lynch, I don’t think they could have expected, in their wildest dreams, that Burkhardt and Lynch would have been calling a playoff game. But together, they gelled, impressed, and rose up the ladder. Even after working with three different broadcasters following Lynch’s move to the front office, Burkhardt didn’t miss a beat and was the natural successor to Buck following his departure.
Additionally, Burkhardt is young enough that Fox won’t need to worry about replacing him for quite awhile (unless he decides to leave the network). He’s right around the same age as Al Michaels, Jim Nantz, and Pat Summerall were when they called their first Super Bowls, and they all called multiple games over multiple networks for their careers. Burkhardt can follow a similar path, call Fox’s next three Super Bowls (at least), and the network’s NFL coverage will be in safe hands.