Event Previews

The 2019 prime-time NFL national schedules and announcer profiles; First game is September 5th

Big year for ESPN's Joe Tessitore and elevated Booger McFarland. Crews for the league's other network homes remain steady

For this weekend’s schedule, geographic clearances and talent, click here for NFL:

Fox runs NFL DH in Week # 2; Buck and Aikman call 2 games; CBS’ Nantz and Romo in Oakland

For this weekend’s full college schedule, announcers and networks, click here:

ESPN, FOX and CBS have tons of college games this weekend; Fowler and Herbstreit in a one-time split

 

SCHEDULE BELOW, FOLLOWING COMMENTS ON THE NETWORKS’ LEAD ANNOUNCE TEAMS

ESPN

The diverse John Tessitore, 48, has a discernible style, different in cadence from his network counterparts. His voice is hollow and his uneven calls don’t follow any rhyme or consistency, rather the instincts dictated by his stream of consciousness. Joe’s his own man at the pulpit. He eschews conventional training scripts that are taught in broadcast schools.

His popular work on college football earned him the coveted gig as ESPN’s NFL lead play-by-play voice. But his first year performance last season was met with mixed reviews. It struck others and me that he spent the season trying to fine tune his wallowing style. Joe’s different, so I’m rooting for him. He’ll get it.

Jason Witten, his prime analyst is headed back to the Cowboys’ playing field. So it appears that Booger McFarland has been liberated from that awkward mobile cart he used last season and will be elevated to the booth. McFarland, 41, showed signs last season in his science-fiction and confining role. The 2019 ESPN telecasts will be a big test for him. Unless ESPN can land a big third name, Booger and Tessitore will remain only a duo.

CBS

Jim Nantz experienced a network announcer’s dream of dreams. In rapid succession earlier this month, he called two emotionally uplifting events, first when Virginia captured the NCAA Tournament, a year after being the first number one seed to lose to a 16 seed. Then, of course, Tiger Woods captured the hearts of millions at the Masters.

This fall, Nantz, who turns 60 on May 17th, settles into the CBS booth with the hottest commentator in television sports, Tony Romo, who turned 39 this past Saturday.

Few thought that another John Madden would come along in our generation. Romo did. He’s demonstrated a breathtaking ability to project plays. The former Dallas quarterback has a warm personality, a sense of humor and a comfortable chemistry with his partner

Nantz, a thirty plus year CBS vet brings a soft tempo to his microphone, an easy-going demeanor and recognizes Romo’s strengths. Accordingly, he gives his partner the necessary runway and space to do his special thing. Nantz can be distinguished in one way, no matter the sport he covers. He sprinkles in human interest angles that fit the moment and achievement.

Romo is demanding astronomicaly big dough to hang around CBS, so we’ll see what eventuates. Next Super Bowl on CBS will be in 2021 in Tampa.

Other than Tony Romo, 10 ‘Wow’ like network TV voices; loved, hated or tolerated; some at the same time

Fox and NFL Network

What can you say? Joe Buck, 50, has an immediately identifiable sound and style. He also has an uncanny ability to call a play and then get out of the way of it with lightning speed. In a heartbeat, he constructs a sentence that summarizes the result of what just happened and what’s to come next. The phrasing sets up his analyst, Mr. No Nonsense, Troy Aikman, to either review or preview. Buck reminds me of his late father Jack. “Fly ball. This one WILL be caught in left field.” Like Jack, Joe makes plausible assumptions. Joe and Jack have a distinction. Both have called a World Series and Super Bowl on network television.

At first, Joe was an acquired taste. By now, he’s very well respected and liked. Aikman, 52, never lacks for preparation or candidness.  Interestingly, Aikman and Collinsworth worked together with Buck in a three man booth years ago. In his fantastic autobiography, Lucky Bastard, Joe says that while Aikman is a frank analyst who reacts to what the game delivers, Collinsworth’s comments can be somewhat scripted so that he can leave an indelible remark on the broadcast.

This February 2nd, Buck and Aikman will call the 2020 Super Bowl which will be played in Miami.

NBC

Al Michaels, 74, and Cris Collinsworth, 60, return to the booth. When NBC’s SNF kicked off in 2006, John Madden was Al’s analyst. The ex-coach served with Michaels for three seasons after which, Collinsworth succeeded him.

Michaels has been the dominant play-by-play voice of pro football for thirty plus years. He built his reputation quickly when he got the ABC Monday Night Football gig in 1986. Al is non-intrusive and dependably informative; facts, figures and heft. When merited, he captions the action with an upsurge of  enthusiasm and perceptible vigor. He never puts himself ahead of the game. Michaels won a long overdue Rozelle Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Collinsworth began his broadcast career locally in Cincinnati after an eight year standout career with the Bengals. His dad, Abe Collinsworth, played on the 1958 Kentucky national basketball championship team. Behind the mic, Collinsworth  is like the giddy kid in the toy shop. He loves what he sees on the field and his enthusiasm can be contagious.

SNF has been the number one ranked network show in prime time for the past eight television seasons. NBC’s next Super Bowl will be in Michaels’ hometown of Los Angeles in 2022.

SCHEDULE OF PRIME-TIME NATIONAL BROADCASTS

Week 1 (Sep 5 -9)

Thu      Green Bay @ Chicago, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Sun      Pittsburgh @ New England, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Houston @ New Orleans, 7:10 PM ET (ESPN)
Mon     Denver @ Oakland, 10:20 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 2 (Sep 12-16)

Thu      Tampa Bay @ Carolina, 8:20 PM ET (NFLN)
Sun      Philadelphia @ Atlanta, PM 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Cleveland @ NY Jets, PM 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 3 (Sep 19-23)

Thu      Tennessee @ Jacksonville, 8:20 PM ET (NFLN)
Sun      LA Rams @ Cleveland, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Chicago @ Washington,8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 4 (Sep 26-30)

Thu      Philadelphia @ Green Bay, 8:20 PM ET(Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Dallas @ New Orleans, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 5 (Oct 3-7)

Thu      LA Rams @ Seattle , 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Indianapolis @ Kansas City, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Cleveland @ San Francisco, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 6 (Oct 10-14)

Thu      NY Giants @ New England, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Pittsburgh @ LA Chargers, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Detroit @ Green Bay, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 7 (Oct 17-21)

Thu    Kansas City @ Denver, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun    Philadelphia @ Dallas, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon   New England @ NY Jets, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 8 (Oct 24-28)

Thu      Washington @ Minnesota, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Green Bay @ Kansas City, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Miami @ Pittsburgh, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 9 (Oct 31-Nov 4)

Thu      San Francisco @ Arizona , 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      New England @ Baltimore, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Dallas @ NY Giants, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 10 (Nov 7-11)

Thu      LA Chargers @ Oakland, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Minnesota @ Dallas, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Seattle @ San Francisco, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 11 (Nov 14-18)

Thu      Pittsburgh @ Cleveland, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Chicago @ LA Rams, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Kansas City @ LA Chargers (Mexico City), 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 12 (Nov 21-25)

Thu      Indianapolis @ Houston, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Seattle @ Philadelphia, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Baltimore @ LA Rams, 8:15 PM ET(ESPN)

Week 13 (Thanksgiving Weekend; Nov 28-Dec 2)

Thu      Chicago @ Detroit, 12:30 PM ET (FOX)
Thu      Buffalo @ Dallas, 4:30 PM ET (CBS)
Thu      New Orleans @ Atlanta, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Sun      New England @ Houston, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Minnesota @ Seattle, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 14 (Dec 5-Dec 9)
Thu      Dallas @ Chicago, 8:20 PM ET (Fox/NFLN)
Sun      Seattle @ LA Rams, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     NY Giants @ Philadelphia, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 15 (Dec 12-16)

Thu      NY Jets @ Baltimore, 8:20 PM ET (NFLN)
Sun      Minnesota @ LA Chargers, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Indianapolis @ New Orleans, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 16 (Dec 22-23)

Sun      Kansas City @ Chicago, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)
Mon     Green Bay @ Minnesota, 8:15 PM ET (ESPN)

Week 17 (Dec 29)

Sun       TBD, 8:20 PM ET (NBC)

NBC FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING:

Flexible scheduling will be used in Weeks 11-17. Additionally, in Weeks 5-10, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks. In Weeks 5-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday or Monday nights.

A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 29. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks, and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into prime time.

SiriusXM will have all NFL broadcasts, those produced nationally by Westwood One and the home and local versions too.

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David J. Halberstam
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.

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