The NFL will officially be back Thursday night and the new ESPN booth of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick will be back in action on Monday night to call the second game of a doubleheader featuring the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos (10:15 p.m ET, ESPN). It will be their first game together as the official broadcasters of Monday Night Football
The trio did call last year’s week 1 game between the Broncos and Raiders.
On Monday, Levy, Griese, and Riddick appeared on The Adam Schefter Podcast for the first time as a trio. As Levy pointed out, the microscope should be on ESPN because of the amount of great games that appear to be on the schedule as of right now.
“I’ve heard executives at our place say that this is the best Monday Night Football schedule in over a decade. We are set up, by the people we have that you will see on television and behind the scenes especially, for success. We have been put in a position to succeed by a lot of smart people that work at the very top of our place.”
Levy feels that the transition to the booth won’t fully take effect for him until next week when the three of them have the sole game on the Monday night slate when the Las Vegas Raiders open their new stadium against the New Orleans Saints.
During this opening weekend of the NFL, there will be an emphasis on what goes on from the players in terms of raising awareness for social justice and what teams decide to do. As Levy points out, it is a message you he hopes can tie into the game.
“There will be opportunities I think in the broadcast and it might be once or twice a quarter to have an opinion and to tie that into the football on the field and the feelings of the players. Getting the players, coaches, GM’s, hopefully ownership and getting those messages out there and combining that with our own personal messages.
“The interesting part will be to manage that. I think there’s a part of the population that probably just wants to be entertained for those 3 hours on Monday night but there’s probably a greater majority I think that wants to know certainly what Louis has to say on the topic and Brian and I will not be able to stay silent. There’s a fine line there.”
Riddick did mention how ESPN has been a network willing to have those conversations about social justice and knows that he has the platform to be an inspiration to many people watching him every Monday night.
“It’s real. It’s traumatic. I would never try to run from it. I can’t run from it anyway because I am one of the people that has experienced forms of being treated unequal or unfairly at different points in my life. Having the platform that I have now I think it inspires people that are African-American or minorities to never give up hope that you can achieve something significant in your life. I take that very seriously.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of changes to broadcasts and many zoom meetings with players and coaches, Riddick mentioned how he embraces that challenge because it is something we are all doing in society.
“It’s going to be so unorthodox in many ways because it has to be. What a great opportunity to really put on display without making it about you, the broadcaster. To be a part of this in a year where there are so many eyes and so many varying opinions to accept and step up to the challenge of doing something. I want that challenge.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth
“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”
NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.
“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.
“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.
“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”
Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.
Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.
Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.
2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.
CBS Tried ‘Intervention’ With Tony Romo
“They knew, they anticipated this. That’s a credit to them, the people in charge there. But it has not gotten better.”
After his performance during the 2022 season, many have questioned why CBS Sports NFL analyst Tony Romo has seemed off his game after seeing high praise during the early stages of his broadcasting career.
A recent nugget from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post claims CBS executives attempted an “intervention” with Romo before the season.
“Tony Romo needs to study more,” Marchand said during The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. “He needs to be better prepared. As you move away from the sidelines, you need to do more work. I know CBS is aware of this. They tried an intervention last offseason. They knew, they anticipated this. That’s a credit to them, the people in charge there. But it has not gotten better.”
Marchand also argued that it appears as if Romo’s partner — Jim Nantz — is content to let the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback struggle.
“This was the narrative out of CBS when Romo was getting all of the publicity: you heard from Nantz’ side and people from CBS that Nantz was the one creating Romo,” quipped Marchand. “The issue now is, why isn’t Nantz helping Romo get to this next level?”
Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS in 2020 — addressed his critics in an interview with Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post, saying he’s simply trying new things.
“I mean, some changes are good, some you’re like, ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do that’. But I always trial and error a bunch and sometimes it works.”
The 42-year-old Romo appeared to push back on the insinuation that he doesn’t prepare for broadcasts like he used to during the interview.
“You’re going to fail all the time, but at the same time, you succeed because of that, as long as you think about it and try to understand how to improve and then go about the process to make that happen, which is work ethic and commitment. But you got to have a plan for it before.”
Jason Benetti: Negotiations With Chicago White Sox ‘Kind of A Pain’
“I just thought it would be easier. But just because it wasn’t easier doesn’t mean it didn’t get done.”
Jason Benetti and Steve Stone recently saw their contracts renewed by NBC Sports Chicago to team once more as the television voices of the Chicago White Sox. Benetti says the talks about a renewal weren’t without their hiccups.
In a profile with Chicago Sun-Times writer Jeff Agrest, Benetti said the talks about the situation weren’t exactly what he envisioned.
“The really good news is we got somewhere good,” Benetti said. “It was kind of a pain, really. There were some things that we had to get through that I thought were silly, and I’m sure they thought some of the stuff that I was talking about might’ve been silly. But we got there in the end.”
Agrest reported the Atlanta Braves were watching the situation with bated breath. Their television play-by-play announcer, Chip Caray, recently departed for the same position with the St. Louis Cardinals.
One of the sticking points in the negotiations between the White Sox and Benetti was how many regular season contests he would miss due to his work with FOX Sports. Benetti is announcing MLB and college football games for the network in 2023 and did his first NFL work for FOX Sports this season. Benetti admitted that were points of frustration along the way.
“I think the work has been strong and I appreciate the heck out of the fans and I have loved the Sox for all my life. I just thought it would be easier. But just because it wasn’t easier doesn’t mean it didn’t get done. Where I have put myself, totally honestly, the place I am is we got it done, and that means something. It means both sides wanted it to happen.”
Chicago White Sox Senior Vice President of Revenue and Marketing Brooks Boyer told Agrest he didn’t see any complications in the negotiations.