Phil Simms, James Brown, Bill Cowher, Nate Burleson and Boomer Esiason Photo credit: CBS

The NFL Today on CBS will look a little bit different in 2024.

Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason were part of the network’s changes, as CBS has opted to go in a different, younger direction. Former Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan will now join the set alongside James Brown, Bill Cowher, JJ Watt, and Nate Burleson.

While Simms and Esiason have spoken on their exits, we’ve yet to hear from any of their colleagues. But Brown, who will soon receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Emmys, was honest about the departure of his “family.” During a recent appearance on the Sports Business Radio Podcast, he acknowledged some “disappointment” in CBS’s decision.

“You know what, and I’m sure you know this, it’s a family,” Brown explained. “I would be disingenuous that there wasn’t some disappointment because (Simms and Esiason) have been family for decades. Literally, just about decades. Boomer and I worked together for a long period of time. They’re hard-working guys.

“Phil Simms, there’s no one in television or radio — no one — who works harder than Phil. He knows the game; he’s that expression that we use when we somebody see somebody who loves being out there practicing over and over and over again — Michael Jordan on the court or whomever. He’s a gym rat. Boomer covers the whole range of sports. He loves it. It’s his life.

“So, yeah, I’m saying there’s sadness there because they were teammates. But we’re also big boys. We all played sports — they have longer than me. And we understand that it’s part of the business.

“So, not only did I share my love from the depths of my heart with those two guys, and emotional conversations back that way. But I also reached out to Matt Ryan, who is a pearl of a person. A gem of a person who knows the business well and knows the sport well. He’s gonna be embraced to welcome him aboard.

“We did that last year with JJ Watt. Look, he is — and this is not a matter of being cocky — he’s self-assured because he’s at that level as a premiere player and one who loves the sport. And as a teammate, and knows how to get his teammates fired up as well, too.

“So, we bring in a couple of guys who are pined for success, and we want to make sure that the transition is as seamless and as quick as possible by having meetings and getting to know each other. Nothing beats getting to know each other, breaking bread, and learning about your colleague, so you’ll know how best to play off and to set them up.”

Expiring contracts for Esiason and Simms gave new CBS Sports president David Berson the green light to make changes this offseason.

While these shifts may not resonate at first with Brown and Co. – as there’s bound to be some disappointment – they recognize it’s a business decision, just like in the NFL itself. Certainly, there was a desire to keep Simms and Esiason on board. Still, just like replacing Simms in the booth with Tony Romo, CBS is opting for a younger direction at the quarterback position with Ryan joining the studio team.

[Sports Business Radio Podcast]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.