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Kirk Herbstreit Reportedly Amazon’s Choice For ‘Thursday Night Football’

Calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC is a lot to take on.

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Amazon has reportedly found its analyst for Thursday Night Football. According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, Kirk Herbstreit is the choice for the streaming platform and retailer. King reported the news in his weekly Football Morning in America column.

The decision comes a week after the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reported that Herbstreit was under consideration by Amazon after Troy Aikman signed with ESPN, Sean McVay decided to remain Los Angeles Rams coach, and San Francisco 49ers John Lynch declined the opportunity. (Former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was also reportedly in the mix, but those discussions apparently didn’t progress.)

According to King, Herbstreit will continue his current role with ESPN/ABC as the network’s top college football game analyst and commentator on Saturday pregame show College GameDay.

Marchand reported that Herbstreit’s contract might allow him to broadcast NFL games with another network while continuing to call college football for ESPN. But that depended on how Disney’s lawyers interpreted his current agreement. Judging from Amazon’s decision, however, Herbstreit’s deal allows for that very option.

As King says in his column, Herbstreit seems like an unusual choice considering most of his broadcasting experience is in college football. But he’s called some NFL games during the past few years and has said he was interested in calling both sports if the opportunity was available.

Herbstreit worked NFL Draft coverage for ESPN in 2018 and last year for ABC. He also called the first game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader with regular play-by-play partner Chris Fowler to kick off the 2020 NFL season. And this past season, the duo called the first game of ESPN/ABC’s NFL Week 18 Saturday doubleheader.

The question now becomes who calls play-by-play alongside Herbstreit on Thursday Night Football. Amazon has pursued Al Michaels for the position, but ESPN is also interested in pairing him with Aikman on Monday Night Football. But if ESPN is somehow able to snatch Joe Buck away from Fox, Michaels will presumably go to Amazon.

The belief has been that Michaels prefers to work with an experienced analyst, rather than break in a first-timer like McVay or Payton. Herbstreit has mostly called college football, of course, but has plenty of experience broadcasting football, is a seasoned professional, and should work smoothly with Michaels.

Amazon surely wanted to make a big splash with its TNF broadcast team and Herbstreit is a different enough choice to be intriguing, even if he might not carry the same recognition among NFL fans as Aikman or attract the curiosity that McVay or Payton would have.

But as Marchand has said in some of his analysis of the story, Herbstreit is, above all, a broadcaster. By that measure, he’s arguably the best choice for the position among available analysts. He’s not a coach-turned-broadcaster. There’s no question as to whether or not he can do the job.

And while Herbstreit is a personality, especially with college football commentary, he’s an insightful, informative analyst who explains to the viewer what happened and why very clearly. Additionally, he explains what coaches and players are thinking on many plays based on his conversations with them throughout the week. He’s not afraid to be critical or protect people with whom he has relationships.

Yet Herbstreit’s workload will also be a question going into the upcoming football season. Calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC is a lot to take on. Other NFL broadcasters like Aikman have called Thursday night and Sunday games. But Herbstreit would obviously have one less day to make the transition from the NFL to college football, and already has to deal with going from the GameDay location Saturday morning to the game he calls in the evening.

Some believed that his more controversial commentary during the last college football season was a result of him being asked to do too much, calling games then appearing on ESPN’s studio coverage, followed by another game broadcast. Could that be an issue as Herbstreit attempts to juggle both NFL and college football obligations? Perhaps, but he certainly appears eager for the opportunity.

Sports TV News

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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