Sports

NFL legends get a new test in TV booths

The NFL TV story this season is seeing which free-agent signings can live up to their hype. Over the last couple of years, we have documented all the moves the networks have made, featuring names like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Greg Olsen.

Now it is time to see if these guys are worth the millions they will be paid.

With the NFL season upon us, let’s take a look at what will be different about what you hear and see in 2021-22.

Monday Night Mannings

The white whale of NFL TV has finally been caught — sort of. Peyton Manning will be part of an alternative broadcast for 10 “Monday Night Football” games on ESPN2. He will be watching and commenting with his brother Eli.

There will be no host, making the Mannings, perhaps fittingly, the quarterbacks of their show. They will be in charge of bringing in guests as the game goes on.

The idea is to create a feeling like you are at a bar, though the brothers will not be in the same place for nearly all the broadcasts.

This broadcast will be considered the secondary telecast as Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese enter their second year on ESPN. They will be the main event, but overshadowed.

Peyton Manning answers a question, as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021
Peyton Manning was finally landed for a TV gig by ESPN.
AP Photo

Week 1, the Mannings will receive a lot of attention. It also may be the only week the brothers will be at the same location for the show.

The Mannings will be on the first three weeks and then seven weeks sporadically throughout the season.

Sunday Night Brees

Drew Brees is stepping right off the field and heading under the TV lights. Brees will be on “Sunday Night Football’s” pregame, but perhaps more interesting will be his work as a game analyst next to Mike Tirico on Notre Dame games.

It could be the beginning of a combo that does Sunday nights in the future and could one day call a Super Bowl.

Brees’ first game will be out of the spotlight. While it will be Notre Dame, it will be exclusively on NBC’s Peacock streaming service, as the Fighting Irish face Toledo on Saturday.

Only Golden Domers and sports media dorks (yes, I’m looking in the mirror) will be glued to it. Tony Romo has set the bar high, but unlike CBS, which put Romo on the first team as a rookie and was rewarded, Brees will be broken in a little more slowly. It will dim the focus, but not entirely.

Amazon Al?

Amazon Prime Video will not become the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” until next season, but it will be in the news.

It is expected to have a partnership with NBC, allowing Fred Gaudelli to be its lead producer. Gaudelli has been the longtime producer of “Sunday Night Football.” He will do double-duty.

With Tirico expected to take over as NBC’s No. 1 NFL play-by-player next season, Al Michaels is the leading candidate to be Amazon’s prime play-by-player. Michaels, who will turn 77 in November, could retire, but has shown no inclination to do so.

For this year, Michaels will be NBC’s lead “Sunday Night Football” play-by-player and is scheduled to call the Super Bowl in his hometown of Los Angeles.

Are You Ready for Some Betting Ads?

You may have heard that sports betting is being legalized in more and more states. The NFL was against gambling for a long time, but the league’s No. 1 value will always be money. But that was the past. Making money off gambling is the future for the league, teams and media.

So a league that used to not let anyone talk about gambling on its air — save for Michaels’ wink-wink mentions — will let its broadcast partners have six sportsbook commercials per game.

This is just the start.

New No. 2 at Fox

Greg Olsen will be on Fox’s No. 2 team with the always likeable Kevin Burkhardt. Olsen was excellent calling a Giants game in 2019.

Troy Aikman is just 54 and, even entering their 20th season, he and Joe Buck love working together, but Olsen’s ability could culminate in him being a No. 1 game analyst one day.

NFL Network analyst and Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen speaks during the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine
Greg Olsen is expected to quickly climb the ranks as an NFL analyst.
AP Photo

And note to all executives, agents and players: This is the best way to start. Olsen has a big stage as the No. 2, but not the main stage. He will be able to grow.

Aikman followed this game plan, doing NFL Europe games back in the day before he went into an NFL booth. Olsen seems serious about his second career, which is often half the battle.

Late Hits

Some other things to watch: Fox will have Gus Johnson and Aqib Talib call a handful of games. Talib had some social media lift with his unique style in a few games last year. …. Ex-Jet Mark Sanchez is now a game analyst on Fox. … ESPN won’t have an opening week “Monday Night Football” doubleheader, but will add a doubleheader on the Saturday of the last weekend of the regular season. … The Giants’ radio team will be at home and road games, while the Jets will not go to road games the first five weeks, but will reevaluate during the bye in Week 6. 

nypost.com

New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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