Event Previews

NFL Week #1: CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC proceed cautiously; Talent, schedule, market clearances


Early ratings today (Friday, 9/11) suggest that last night’s KC-Houston game was down 12% from last years’s NFL opener on NBC. Some fans might feel that sports broadcasts are being deluged with political messaging. Long way to go before drawing conclusions.

Fox has the doubleheader this first weekend and will carry the Tom Brady matchup, Tampa Bay at New Orleans. Voices, times, market coverage and percentage of country listed below. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are on it.

Additional Play-by-Play Announcers not working this week for Fox are  Tim Brando, Joe Davis and Brandon Gaudin. One name not listed is Sam Rosen, 73, who’s called NFL games for Fox since 1996. Last time I looked, no one is getting younger.

Last minute development. The NFL requires media members who’ve traveled outside the country to be back in the United States for two weeks before they’e allowed in a stadium. Kenny Albert had been in Edmonton, Canada covering hockey. Yesterday, he left there, connected planes in Toronto and headed for Detroit where he was scheduled to do the Bears-Lions game. When notified in Detroit of the NFL’s decision, he got on another flight for New Jersey where he lives.

Dick Stockton, one of the great pros of all-time, sits in last minute. I’m sure Kenny turned over his depth chart to Dick. Kenny’s a good guy but he undertakes an excessive number of assignments so this doesn’t completely surprise me. One of these years, some logistics issue was likely to surface. If he goes back to Canada to do hockey, he’ll need to be sequestered there. Hope he enjoys his well deserved time off. 

The only solution I can think of is that NBC allows him to do NHL games from its studio in Connecticut.

Great to have Stockton continue to work. He’s on a limited schedule this season. According to Un/Necessary Sports research, he’s done 708 NFL games. That’s lots of Sundays away. At 77, he’s still a comfortable voice.

Fox’ additional analysts include Brady Quinn, Matt Millen and Robert Smith.

CBS deservedly moved Kevin Harlan to third on its play-by-play chart. Greg Gumbel, 74, drops from third to fourth.

Kevin Kugler and Adam Amin are new to Fox’ NFL roster of steadies. Amin, signed by Fox from ESPN, is solid at MLB, football and basketball. He’ll serve the Foxies well. Most of Kugler’s experience is on the radio side. He’s done some work for Fox in the past and for the Big Ten Network.

Sean McManus, CBS’ Sports CEO, suggested yesterday that most of the focus on issues related to social justice will be covered in pre-game programming. Look for the play-by-play team to keep their commentary to the activities they see on the field. McManus’ answer was in response to a question I posed about viewers being deluged with political messaging on other sportscasts.

Sideliners will be stationed in a trench along the first row of stands. They’ll have limited ability to roam. We’ll see how that works out.

There will be Plexiglas between the announcers in the booth. Jim Nantz said he’ll have to get around things because he and partner Tony Romo have a “touchie-feelie” way of communicating.

I was impressed with Romo. When he heard my name of the CBS media call Thursday, he said he has several books written by my distant relative of the same name, David Halberstam, a truly star-studded and versatile author. The real David was killed in a car crash in California in 2007. He was there to interview Y. A. Tittle who’s since passed.

Little trivia. CBS’ Andrew Catalon was born on the same day that ESPN launched, September 7, 1979.

ESPN’s new MNF crew is made up of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick. The always reliable Lisa Salters will work the sidelines. When asked about an opt-out on their contracts, Levy said, “I have an out on my contract to become a General Manager if anyone wants to offer me.” The Long Island wit of Levy!

Another change you’ll see is the move by Charles Davis from Fox to CBS. He’ll be teamed with Ian Eagle. Davis is bright and likable.

The NFL voices will be on site to cover action live. the networks have a backup plan in place should this have to change. MLB is done remotely.

It appears at this point that Fox is the only network planning to use virtual crowds, similar to what it does for baseball. One reason is that it’s expensive. Detroit-Chicago broadcast gets the virtual fans.

Here ya’ go. Enjoy week one.


Thursday, Sept. 10

Houston at Kansas City, 8:20pm (NBC) Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth (100%)


Sunday, Sept. 13

Seattle at Atlanta, 1pm (FOX) Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth (26%)

Albany, Alexandria, Anchorage, Atlanta, Augusta, Bakersfield, Baton Rouge, Bend, Biloxi, Birmingham, Boise, Butte, Charleston, Chattanooga, Chico, Columbia, Columbus, Columbus, Dothan, Eugene, Eureka, Fairbanks, Fresno, Gainesville, Great Falls, Greenville, Greenwood, Guam, Harlingen, Hattiesburg, Helena, Honolulu, Huntsville, Idaho Falls, Jackson, Jackson, Jacksonville, Juneau, Knoxville, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Laredo, Little Rock, Macon, Medford, Memphis, Meridian, Missoula, Mobile, Monroe, Monterey, Montgomery, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Panama City, Portland, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Savannah, Seattle, ShreveportSpokane Tallahassee Tampa Tri-Cities Twin Falls Wilmington Yakima

Cleveland at Baltimore, 1pm (CBS) Ian Eagle, Charles Davis (15%)

Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Rock Island, Rockford, Louisville, Baltimore, Salisbury, Alpena, Cadillac, Sault Saint Marie, Mankato, Cape Girardeau, Cleveland, Columbus, Oh., Lima, Toledo, Youngstown, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Altoona, Erie, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Johnson City, Austin, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Huntington, Lewisburg, Parkersburg, Weston, Wheeling

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo, 1pm (CBS) Andrew Catalon, James Lofton (9%)

Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira-corning, New York, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown, Scranton, Casper, Lander, Rock Springs

Las Vegas at Carolina, 1pm (CBS) Greg Gumbel, Rich Gannon (17%)

Chico, Eureka, Fresno, Monterey, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Maria, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Grand Junction, Montrose, Augusta (na_ Sc), Boise, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, New Orleans, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Glendive, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville_Nc, Raleigh, Wilmington, Scottsbluff/Gering, Albuquerque, Roswell, Las Vegas, Reno, Bend, Coos Bay, Eugene, Medford, Portland, Roseburg, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Spartanburg, El Paso, Salt Lake City, Spokane, Cheyenne

Chicago at Detroit, 1pm (FOX) Dick Stockton Jonathan Vilma (9%)

Alpena, Champaign, Chicago, Davenport, Detroit, Evansville, Flint, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Lansing, Lima, Paducah, Peoria, Quincy, Rockford, South Bend, Springfield, Terre Haute, Toledo, Traverse City

Indianapolis at Jacksonville, 1pm (CBS) Spero Dedes, Adam Arculeta (4%)

Dothan, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Panama City Beach, Tallahassee, Albany, Savannah, Champaign, Peoria, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Lafayette_In., South Bend, Terre Haute, Bowling Green

Green Bay at Minnesota, 1pm (FOX) Chris Myers, Greg Jenings, Brock Huard (38%)

Albuquerque, Bangor, Beaumont, Billings, Boston, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Casper, Cedar Rapids, Charleston, Charlotte, Cheyenne, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbia, Columbus, Corpus Christi, Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Duluth, El Paso, Erie, Fargo, Fort Myers, Grand Junction, Green Bay, Houston, Jonesboro, Joplin, Kansas City, La Crosse, Las Vegas, Lexington, Lincoln, Los Angeles, Louisville, Madison, Mankato, Marquette, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Minot, North Platte, Omaha, Ottumwa, Palm Springs, Parkersburg, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Presque Isle, Providence, Rapid City, Rochester, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Sioux City, Sioux Falls, SpringfieldSpringfield St. Joseph St. Louis Topeka Tucson Victoria Wausau West Palm Beach Wheeling Wichita Youngstown Yuma

Miami at New England, 1pm (CBS) Jim Nantz, Tony Romo (31%)

Abilene, Alexandria, Amarillo, Anchorage, Bangor, Beaumont, Biloxi, Birmingham, Bismarck, Boston, Bryan , Burlington, Chattanooga, Columbus_Ga., Columbus_Ms., Corpus Christi, Dallas, Dickinson, Dodge City/Ensign, Fairbanks, Fargo, Florence, Ft Myers , Ft Smith, Goodland, Grand Island, Greenville_Ms, Harlingen , Hartford, Hattiesburg, Hays, Honolulu, Houston, Huntsville, Jackson, Jackson, Jefferson City, Jonesboro, Juneau, Kansas City, Ketchikan, Kirksville, Knoxville, Lafayette_La., Lake Charles, Laredo, Lincoln, Little Rock, Lubbock , Macon, Memphis, Meridian, Miami , Minot, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Nashville, North Platte, Odessa, Omaha, Orlando, PhoenixPittsburg Portland Presque Isle Providence  Quincy Rapid City Reliance San Angelo San Antonio Sherman Shreveport Sioux City Sioux Falls Sitka Springfield Springfield St Joseph St. Louis Tampa Topeka Tucson Tyler Victoria W. Palm Beach Waco Wichita Wichita Falls Williston

Philadelphia at Washington, 1pm (FOX) Kevin Burkhardt, Daryl Johnston (26%)

Abilene, Albany, Amarillo, Austin, Baltimore, Binghamton, Bluefield, Burlington, Charlottesville, Clarksburg, Dallas, Elmira, Fort Smith, Greensboro, Greenville, Harrisburg, Harrisonburg, Hartford, Johnstown, Lubbock, Myrtle Beach, New York, Norfolk, Odessa, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, Raleigh, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester, Salisbury, San Angelo, San Antonio, Sherman, Syracuse, Tulsa, Tyler, US Virgin Islands, Utica, Waco, Washington, Watertown, Wichita Falls, Wilkes-Barre

L.A. Chargers at Cincinnati, 4:05pm (CBS) Kevin Harlan, Trent Green (24%)

Yuma, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, Atlanta, Mason City, Lewiston, Chicago, Hazard, Lexington, Baton Rouge, Detroit, Escanaba, Flint, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Duluth – Chisholm, Minneapolis, Walker, Cincinnati, Dayton, Philadelphia , Pasco, Seattle, Yakima, Green Bay, La Crosse , Madison, Milwaukee, Wausau

Tampa Bay at New Orleans, 4:25pm (FOX) Joe Buck, Troy Aikman (91%)

Abilene, Albany, Albany, Albuquerque, Alexandria, Alpena, Amarillo, Anchorage, Atlanta, Augusta, Austin, Baltimore, Bangor, Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Billings, Biloxi, Binghamton, Birmingham, Bluefield, Boise, Boston, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Burlington, Butte, Casper, Cedar Rapids, Champaign, Charleston, Charleston, Charlotte, Charlottesville, Chattanooga, Cheyenne, Chicago, Cincinnati, Clarksburg, Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Columbia, Columbia, Columbus, Columbus, Columbus, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Davenport, Dayton, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, Dothan, Duluth, El Paso, Elmira, Erie, Evansville, Fairbanks, Fargo, Flint, Fort Myers, Fort SmithFort Wayne Gainesville Grand Junction Grand Rapids Great Falls Green Bay Greensboro Greenville Greenville Greenwood Guam Harlingen Harrisburg Harrisonburg Hartford Hattiesburg Helena Honolulu Houston Huntsville Idaho Falls Indianapolis Jackson Jackson Jacksonville Johnstown Jonesboro Joplin Juneau Kansas City Knoxville La Crosse Lafayette Lafayette Lake Charles Lansing Laredo Las Vegas Lexington Lima Lincoln Little Rock Los Angeles Louisville Lubbock Macon Madison Mankato Marquette Memphis Meridian Miami Milwaukee Minneapolis Minot Missoula Mobile Monroe Montgomery Myrtle Beach Nashville New Orleans New York Norfolk North Platte Odessa Oklahoma City Omaha Orlando Ottumwa Paducah Panama City Parkersburg Peoria Philadelphia Pittsburgh Portland, Presque Isle, Providence Puerto Rico Quincy Raleigh Rapid City Richmond Roanoke Rochester Rochester Rockford Salisbury Salt Lake City San Angelo San Antonio San Diego Savannah Seattle Sherman Shreveport Sioux City Sioux Falls South Bend Spokane Springfield Springfield Springfield St. Joseph St. Louis Syracuse Tallahassee Tampa Terre Haute Toledo Topeka Traverse City Tri-Cities Tulsa Twin Falls Tyler US Virgin Islands Utica Victoria Waco Washington Watertown Wausau West Palm Beach Wheeling Wichita Wichita Falls Wilkes-Barre Wilmington Yakima Youngstown

Arizona at San Francisco, 4:25pm (FOX) Kevin Kugler, Chris Spielman (8%)

Bakersfield, Bend, Chico, Eugene, Eureka, Fresno, Medford, Monterey, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Portland, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Tucson, Yuma

Dallas at L.A. Rams, 8:20pm (NBC) Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth (100%)


Monday, Sept. 14

Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants, 7:15pm (ESPN) Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit (100%)

Tennessee at Denver, 10:10pm (ESPN) Steve Levy, Brian Griese (100%)


David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
3 years ago

Thinking of Nantz and Romo, I’m reminded of John Madden talking about how one week, Pat Summerall would be on one side of him and the next week he’d be on the other. He wondered why and Pat silently rolled up his sleeve to show the bruises where John grabbed him!

Lindsey Nelson recalled a play-by-play broadcaster who would put his hand over the analyst’s mouth if he didn’t want to hear from him. I wonder who THAT was!