This article has been updated with the latest information on the NFL Network host Thursday Night Football announcers, hosts, cast, crew, and commentators. Thursday Night Football is a marketing name for NFL games that begin airing on Thursday nights in Week Two of the regular season. The NFL Network host Thursday Night Football announcers, hosts, cast, crew, and commentators are all included here.
NFL Network host This experiment was confined to only those who called the games, not those who worked in the studio.
We also attempted to keep this list to games that are (mainly) well-known across the country. Yes, I’m sure your local radio DJ is fantastic, but he may not have made this list. Sorry.
I’ve asked for some assistance in this endeavour because we all have biases based on our age, where we live, and what teams we follow. The networks used different announcing crews for each team for years before moving to regional and eventually national television announcers. I’ve asked for some help in this particular endeavour because we all have biases based on our age, where we live, and what teams we follow.
Bleacher Report NFL analysts Mike Freeman, Josh Zerkle, Mike Schottey, Ty Schalter, Will Carroll, Christopher Hansen, and Erik Frenz contributed to this list.
I gathered the perspectives of other folks who listen to the announcers about as attentively as I do, including Tim Burke (Deadspin) and Ed Sherman, with the hope of expanding this beyond the B/R snow globe (The Sherman Report). More came in over Twitter from you, dear reader. Oh, and this guy—not the topic, but the author.
Before you go berserk in the comments section because your favourite announcer isn’t on the list, take in mind that we started with 87 names. We whittled it down to 50 names, listing them alphabetically (read: not in any order) on a single page before devoting more time and energy to the top 25 broadcasters.
Oh, and just so you know, sideline reporters are eligible for this list, but none made it. This is also a Gruden-Free Zone.
Enjoy, discuss, and maybe your favourite voice was not forgotten.
Merrill Reese, Myron Cope, and Homers All Over
NFL network cast, hosts & analysts
In our official rankings, Homer radio broadcasters from all across the country take the top place. Every city has one, but Pittsburgh’s late Myron Cope, who came up with the “Terrible Towel,” and Philadelphia’s Merrill Reese, who is the king of all homers but can also be a harsh critic of the team that pays his salary, are two of the most famous.
Cope’s croaky voice may never work in today’s media, but it cemented his place in Pittsburgh sports alongside the athletes.
In Philadelphia, Reese is known for his energy, even when it comes to the sacrifice of precision. Take note of everything that transpired from the snap through the touchdown on this play. Did Reese go through any of them with you? He’s too engrossed in counting yards.
NFL Network hosts & analysts Merlin Olsen’s effect on the game, both on the field and as a game announcer, is undeniable. When I was a kid, Olsen was a larger-than-life character in the booth when I was a kid, teaming largely with Dick Enberg as NBC’s top announcing crew.
NFL Network hosts & analysts Mike Mayock is best known as the NFL Network’s host and draught expert, but he’s also made a name for himself as an in-game commentator, working Thursday games for the NFL Network host and Notre Dame football games for NBC.
Ty Schalter, a lead writer for the NFL, adds, “In short bursts, Mayock is terrific, and he’s prepared to deliver insight rather than advance the plot. He does, however, become lost in his own world from time to time. “
Mayock is a nitpicker (his phrase, not mine), which draftniks adore, but it can be exhausting to see in person. He is, without a doubt, one of the top analysts working today.NFL Network hosts & analysts
(Let it be known that after over an hour of research, this is the best video I could locate.) There are occasions when I appreciate the leagues’ need to regulate their internet content, but there are also instances when it’s irritating. Please send us a handful of your greatest in-game footage so we can help you advertise your league.
NFL Network hostI’ve had the pleasure of spending time with Mike Tirico on several occasions, and I’ve rarely met anybody more considerate and nice. I once interviewed him an hour before kickoff from inside the Monday Night Football booth, and he told me the time as if we were sitting in a coffee shop on a Saturday morning.
But it isn’t the reason he is on this list. The opportunity to see Tirico’s preparation manifest itself in his game call is why he’s on our list.
Tirico should have received an Emmy for balancing the time between Tony Kornheiser and Joe Theismann, as well as Kornheiser and Ron Jaworski, and then managing the egos of Jaws and Jon Gruden. Hopefully, just being included on this list will be enough of an honour.
Mike Mayock is best known as the NFL Network’s host and draught expert, but he’s also made a name for himself as an in-game commentator, working Thursday games for the NFL Network host and Notre Dame football games for NBC.
Vin Scully will undoubtedly be No. 1 on our baseball list (spoiler warning). But did you know that throughout his tenure, the Dodgers’ broadcasting great also called a lot of football games?
Consider how different things could have been if Scully had been covering Monday Night Football when it first started. Consider how different things would have been if CBS had chosen Scully as John Madden’s regular partner instead of Pat Summerall after each of them had a four-week spell with Madden during the 1981 season.
Scully was handed the lower-profile NFC Championship Game with Hank Stram instead of the Super Bowl with Madden that year, after losing the primary play-by-play job to Summerall, putting Scully in the TV booth for “The Catch.”
NFL network host & analysts Charlie Jones was one of five individuals in the top 20 of our list who were also on our list of top college football announcers, although he was arguably best known for his work calling games from the professional football booth.
Jones, who worked for NBC from 1965 until 1997, was a throwback to the old AFL days of the 1960s. He called some great games, but the Buffalo Bills’ comeback against the Houston Oilers in the 1993 Wild Card Game is the one that stands out the most. The Bills came back from being down 35-3 in the third quarter to win in overtime. They did this with Todd Christiansen, who should have been on this list more.
Jones was never on NBC’s second or third team of announcers, but his long time there and unique accent made it impossible to get rid of him.
Lindsey Nelson, a prominent voice of the collegiate bowl season for more than 30 years, is at the top of our college football list. He also spent over 20 years as an announcer for the New York Mets, having joined the team in 1962.NFL Network hosts & analysts
Nelson worked as a play-by-play announcer for the Cowboys and Bears for CBS from 1966 to 1981, before transitioning to national and regional coverage in the 1970s. Nelson often called games on the radio on Monday nights, evoking a bygone age of sports broadcasting.
Nelson’s lengthy and illustrious career is notable in that he didn’t get widespread national recognition until he was in his 50s. He certainly made up for any time he spent away from the national limelight by being inducted into practically every major announcing Hall of Fame.
Jim Nantz (age 18)
Jim Nantz is a fantastic broadcaster who would be ideal as the top spokesperson for a slick network like CBS. It’s simply that, like his Fox counterpart, “Nantz weariness” is all too common, especially among fans of sports other than professional football.
Nantz is the primary college basketball commentator for March Madness and CBS’ golf coverage, which includes the Masters and PGA Championship (note: CBS and Turner are corporate partners for the NCAA tournament and PGA), as well as the lead play-by-play guy for the NFL network host on CBS. It’s a lot of Nantz, especially considering CBS had the Super Bowl last season.
Nantz is the archetypal game manager in the booth, which is precisely what CBS wants, so putting him with a more dynamic colour commentator for football and/or giving the Final Four to Marv Albert or Verne Lundquist would greatly improve the network’s entire sports coverage.
Nantz had become, in a sense, too good for his own good.
I’ll admit that Don Meredith predates my prime-time football viewing experience, so my rating is solely based on the opinions of people who are old enough to remember him, as well as the hundreds of pieces of footage accessible online.NFL Network hosts & analysts
Dandy Don was a founding member of the Monday Night Football crew, working NFL network host games for ABC and, for a time, NBC, from 1970 until 1984.
Meredith was known as a bit of a jokester in the studio, often making fun of the dramatic Howard Cosell (more on him later), but he knew his game well, having been a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for nine years and going to three Pro Bowls.
When I inquired about Meredith, my father shrugged, implying that he was more of a character than an analyst (then what would that make Cosell? one might wonder). When I told media journalist Ed Sherman about it, he said, “You must include Meredith in your plans.” He revolutionised the profession as a whole. He probably talked about football more than most people remember.
There are many more MNF characters to come, but it would be strange to leave one of the original and longest-serving characters off this list.
Frank Gifford, No. 16
After his Hall of Fame playing career, Frank Gifford began covering games for CBS before coming to ABC for Monday Night Football in 1971, taking over play-by-play responsibilities from Keith Jackson.
Sharing a microphone with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith must have been unusual for Gifford—in the old pregame stand-ups, they really shared a microphone while on camera—something that helped solidify his name and prominence in the NFL network host booth. But, gosh, with such colossal egos, it must have been a difficult road to travel.
After Meredith departed the booth in the 1980s, the powers that be promoted Gifford to colour analyst, pairing him alongside Al Michaels and, for most of his time in that position, Dan Dierdorf. Gifford was able to blend his skills as a former player with the experience of calling games for 15 years, providing a perfect scenario for him to flourish on TV, unencumbered by the framework of time and distance.
His first on-air conversation with Michaels during a regular-season MNF game demonstrated how relieved he was to be able to take a breath.
Time was not fully Gifford’s friend, as it is with any announcer who spends more than two-and-a-half decades in the same television booth. His job as a game analyst changed to that of a game host. Michaels took on more responsibilities, while Dierdorf gave commentary after the game.
In some ways, they were the finest years in the history of Monday Night Football, but Gifford’s efforts were eventually overshadowed by the three-man booth, which he helped establish as a weekly mainstay. Those contributions, on the other hand, were significant throughout his term.
Tom Brookshier was born in New Mexico and attended college in Colorado, but in Philadelphia, he was as well-known as any sports figure.NFL Network hosts & analysts
Brookshier was a defensive backfield starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1953 to 1961, missing the 1954 and 1955 seasons due to service in the Air Force. He was a member of the 1960 NFL network host Championship team. Brookshier’s career ended a year later due to injury, and he spent three years on local radio and television before signing with CBS as a colour analyst in the mid-to-late 1960s.
In the early 1970s, Brookshier co-hosted This Week in Pro Football with Pat Summerall, and the two got along so well that CBS decided to put them in the booth, with Summerall handling play-by-play and Brookshier offering commentary.
Brookie, as he was called, was in the booth for three Super Bowls and in the studio for numerous more. He was later replaced in the main booth by John Madden, who went on to work for CBS as a play-by-play commentator for less important games.
Brookshier was also a sports radio pioneer as one of the original morning show hosts on Philadelphia’s WIP when he teamed up with upstart Angelo Cataldi in the station’s early days. I’m not sure whether that’s a positive thing to remember Brookshier for among people who know Philly radio. (We make fun of ourselves because we like WIP.)