Starting Sunday, you'll be back to enjoying the glory of NFL football for the next several months. But which voices will be talking to you from the picture box while you do so? Glad you asked! Because I have created this handy guide to the old and new voices you'll be seeing on every network this season (plus, in parenthesis, find out which Week 1 game each broadcast crew will be calling. Double the info!)
1. Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Pam Oliver (San Francisco vs. Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. ET)
2. Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa (Washington vs. New Orleans, 1 p.m. ET)
3. Thom Brennaman/Brian Billick/Laura Okmin (Atlanta vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m. ET)
4. Dick Stockton/John Lynch/Jennifer Hale (Philadelphia vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET)
5. Chris Myers/Tim Ryan/Jaime Maggio (St. Louis vs. Detroit, 1 p.m. ET)
6. Sam Rosen/ (Seattle vs. Arizona, 4:25 p.m. ET)
7. Ron Pitts/Mike Martz (Carolina vs. Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m. ET)
- Am I the only human being on earth that is starting to begrudgingly like Joe Buck a little bit more? Yes? Well, I'll explain why. I think Buck has sort of gotten the gist of what people didn't like about him: the blase calls, the smugness, the I'm-better-than-this-why-couldn't-daddy-have-been-a-talk-show-host entitlement. That, combined with his vocal chord ailment in 2011, has probably humbled Buck a bit. He's come back from that with some really fine moments (the 2011 World Series, the most recent NFL Playoffs) that prove that, even if he's not actually correcting those suggested flaws, he's doing his best to pretend he is.
- Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston are fine together, but dear God, what do executives still see in Tony Siragusa? It's been eight years with this guy and I still can't figure out what he's actually doing. Apparently they've now given him his own little mini-studio down on the field. Great.
- Thom Brennaman is like a C-level version of every Phil Hartman character without the winking sense of irony. Everything just sounds so phony and schticky and his voice just screams "I AM ON TELEVISION!" Shame, because Brian Billick is clearly very intelligent from his work on NFL Network, and he gets saddled with Bill McNeal.
- Why is Chris Myers ahead of Sam Rosen on the FOX food chain? Myers is a fine reporter, but he's not very good at play-by-play (try sitting through one of the MLB broadcasts he did earlier this summer. UGH.), especially compared to the always underrated Rosen. Plus, Rosen's been with FOX since the start (he's the only play-by-play man left from the first year FOX covered the NFC) and trumps him on longevity, so what gives?
- Speaking of longtime New York Rangers play-by-play man Sam Rosen still calling football, that's notable, because at least once a year, my dad -- who is a big-time hockey fan but has little interest in the rest of the sports world -- asks "since when does Sam Rosen call football?" and I respond with "he's always done this, dad." Like clockwork.
- Mike Martz? You mean coach Crazytown Bananapants doing commentary on some Cardinals-Seahawks level game every week? That might be worth buying a subscription to Sunday ticket if I weren't tethered to cable. Maybe it's worth a subscription to the Red Zone channel.
1. Jim Nantz/Phil Simms (New England vs. Tennessee, 1 p.m. ET)
2. Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf (Indianapolis vs. Chicago, 1 p.m. ET)
3. Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts (Miami vs. Houston, 1 p.m. ET)
4. Marv Albert/Rich Gannon (Buffalo vs. NY Jets, 1 p.m. ET)
5. Kevin Harlan/Solomon Wilcots (Jacksonville vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m. ET)
6. Bill Macatee/Steve Tasker (Week 2: Cleveland vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m. ET)
7. Spero Dedes/Steve Beuerlein (Week 2: Buffalo vs. Kansas City, 1 p.m. ET)
- I have much less to say about the CBS broadcasters, mostly because they seem largely indistinguishable and rarely say anything of great controversy. If only Gus Johnson were still on the network, I could pull a lovely contrarian rant about how overrated he is... but that shall be for another day.
- Phil Simms and Troy Aikman seem pretty interchangeable to me, in a good way. Honestly, I'm not really looking for my afternoon game announcers to be all that entertaining or controversial. The Sunday, Monday and primetime telecasts have a more difficult job to sell themselves as TV shows since they go up against primetime programming. Simms explains what's happening, doesn't really make much noise, and lets Nantz get on with the play-by-play. Unless Simms plans on going Will McAvoy on everyone, he'll remain serviceable.
- By the way, if no one's ever thought it up, free fantasy football team name: Nantzy Boys.
- I know Marv Albert is closing in on some ungodly old age, and that he's not necessarily known for football, but shouldn't he be ahead of Ian Eagle (who is great on his own, and in three different sports) and Greg Gumbel (who I never really care about either way)? Just seems odd to have him calling what, most weeks, won't be all that meaningful a game (Albert calls Jets/Bills in Week 1).
- Dan Dierdorf still calls football games? And fairly prominent ones? That seems... wrong, though I can't really put my finger on why.
1. Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth/Michelle Tafoya
- For my money, this is the best team. Sunday Night Football does have to be entertaining and attempt to draw big ratings each week, and there's no better team to try and keep them in during a bad game than Michaels and Collinsworth. Michaels still absolutely brings it on football. Collinsworth has been an admirable replacement for John Madden, and comes off as knowledgeable and even funny, something that many, many, many NFL analysts attempt, but few achieve.
1. Brad Nessler/Mike Mayock
- Very little to say about the NFL Network's Thursday night crew, which is a rarity since they gained access to a package of games a few years back. They've had a lot of bad crews over the years, but Nessler is a pro when it comes to football and Mayock remains a rising star in sports broadcasting. Good job, NFL Network. You rid yourself of Joe Theismann, and are now capable of anything.
1. Mike Tirico/John Gruden
2. Chris Berman/Trent Dilfer
- Tirico and Gruden have been criticized better by wiser minds than me. You can yap on about Gruden's overuse of "this guy", of that phony "I'M AN IMPORTANT BROADCASTER PERSON" voice that Tirico puts on, of how Jaworski was always clearly above (and better prepared than) the both of them. You're not here to listen to me make fun of them, but...
- That second team is a nuclear explosion of mediocrity akin to using nuclear explosions as a plot device in action movies. There really is no hope for the one regular season game that Boomer and Dilfer (who really does come off as intelligent otherwise, but not with leather) will call, the late game on opening night. If you root for San Diego or Oakland, I have unlimited pity for you. Maybe this -- likely the most people to ever watch Chris Berman call anything at once -- will finally convince somebody with decision-making power that this man has long been begging to be sent out to pasture (But probably not, as just today he signed a new contract extension with ESPN).