The NFL is a major draw. People really seem to like watching it. A good announcing team can make it even more appealing. There are many across the rights-holding networks. Whittling them down to a top 10 list was difficult because there are some worthy partnerships that just missed. And of course there’s a great deal of personal preference that goes into the calculus.
Okay, that’s just about enough caveats for one post. To the rankings. Here are the 10 best announcing teams working NFL games this season:
10. Chris Myers/Daryl Johnston/Laura Okmin, Fox
This wouldn’t be the first group that comes to mind when it comes to calling your team’s game but it’s always a pleasant watch. Myers has put together an impressively diverse career and his ability to do play-by-play at such a high level should be appreciated. Johnston has just enough personality to stand out, but not overwhelm.
9. Thom Brennaman/Chris Spielman/Shannon Spake, Fox
Spielman is quietly one of the best analysts in the game, capable of both college and pro ball. He speaks authoritatively, clearly, and does an excellent job of not making it about him. Brennaman is also a guy slightly off the beaten path at this point who shows up and does his job well.
8. Greg Gumbel/Trent Green/Melanie Collins, CBS
Gumbel is perhaps known as a studio guy, but he’s good in the booth as well. There’s some nostalgia there, for sure, but he can still deliver the goods. Green is fair and fun.
7. Ian Eagle/Dan Fouts/Evan Washburn, CBS
Eagle makes it known that he’s having fun. And if he’s having fun, you’re having fun. I am not sure there’s someone better at reacting to a moment and ratcheting it up to 11. Fouts is a bit of a throwback, which has a certain appeal to a certain segment.
6. Joe Tessitore/Booger McFarland/Lisa Salters, ESPN
Last year’s retooled Monday Night Football team struggled to find its footing and was the subject of intense media coverage. Jason Witten, for all his talents, was not the second coming of Tony Romo. But it’s a testament to Tessitore, who has a fantastic big-play voice, and McFarland, who was able to create chemistry with Tess despite riding a monstrous mechanical contraption far away, that the broadcast never truly went off the rails. ESPN is hoping there will be addition by subtraction.
5. Kevin Burkhardt/Charles Davis/Pam Oliver, Fox
Burkardt is a pro’s pro and Davis is authoritative. Both are well above-average and present a clean, insightful product. Truth be told there’s not a huge drop off between Fox’s No. 1 and 2 booth.
4. Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon/Steve Tasker, CBS
Harlan is a one-man thrill ride who has created a niche turning mundane moments into viral fodder. He’s also damn good at his real job. Just a treat to bask in his vocal stylings.
3. Jim Nantz/Tony Romo/Tracy Wolfson, CBS
The fact that this booth is third on the list is a testament to depth of the talent at the top of this list. Nantz is as good as anyone, and Romo has been a revelation in his two years. The most important thing he’s done is rejuvenate Nantz, a venerable and trusted voice who has attacked the job with more gusto. His gravitas creates a nice interplay with the energetic and possibly clairvoyant Romo. These top three are separated by a razor-thin margin and shifts according to taste.
2. Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Erin Andrews, Fox
Buck is perhaps the most unfairly maligned announcer on the planet. He does not — and I can’t stress this enough — hate your team. The best part about his broadcast is how he makes it feel so easy. It’s as if he’s a sports car being driven at 90 mph on the highway but is quiet and efficient. Aikman is a stick-to-the-facts type of guy who provides insight without hot takes.
1. Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth/Michele Tafoya, NBC
Michaels is devastating witty in a been-there-seen-it all type of way. Collinsworth slides into the picture at the top of the broadcast and holds court. They are as good a team as I can remember. No one captures the excitement and immediate aftermath of an exciting moment more than Michaels, who hasn’t lost a step. And no one has more fun telling you why it happened than Collinsworth. It doesn’t hurt that they are blessed with the best game presentation and directing the sport has to offer. They are, in fact, why so many people wait all day for Sunday night.