Behind the scenes at Super Bowl week is where sports media shakeups kick off

PHOENIX – The reason Super Bowl week brings me back to my days of covering baseball is because it’s like the winter meetings with all the talk, rumors and moves.

Let’s go back to Los Angeles just one year ago.

The game was broadcast on NBC, and these were the top NFL teams announcing at the time:

Fox: Joe Book And Troy Ackman

NBC: Al Michaels And Chris Collinsworth

CBS: Jim Nantz And Tony Romo

ESPN: Steve Levy, Brian Graves And Louis Riddick Jr

Amazon: TBD

Fox Sports' Tom Rinaldi, Kevin Burckhardt, Greg Olson and Erin Andrews
With Kevin Burckhardt and Greg Olson, Tom Rinaldi and Erin Andrews of Fox Sports
Fox Sports

Now they are:

Fox: Kevin Burckhardt And Greg Olson

NBC: Mike Terrico and Collinsworth

CBS: Nantz and Romo

ESPN: Buck and Ackman

Amazon: Michaels et al Kirk Herbstreit

And the beauty of Super Bowl week is when all the wheels really start turning. Aikman was close to staying with Fox in a separate deal with Amazon. If that were the case, Buck and Aikman would be calling the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman concluded their first seasons at ESPN after a 20-year partnership at Fox Sports.
Joe Buck and Troy Aikman’s joint jump from Fox Sports to ESPN for this past NFL season started coming together a year ago.
Getty Images

Instead, ESPN, which had its eye on Michaels, swooped in and swiped Aikman and Buck after talks first heated up in the lead-up to the big game. Then the dominoes fell all over the place — even the Super Bowl-winning coach Sean McCoy Enter the picture with a potential offer of $20 million per year from Amazon.

The last offseason was the craziest in sports broadcasting history. Even before that, the wheels were turning, and the doors were ajar — ESPN let Tirico leave “Monday Night Football” for NBC in 2016 and Romo signed a historic contract worth $180 million in 2020. — which led to Amazon entering the picture as a new bidder. Loosened things up even more.

Not all dynamics are the same. But, as with the winter meetings in their prime, the beauty of this week is when bold executives, broadcasters and agents begin to take industry-changing action.

It’s a lot of fun.

Mets Radio’s Youth Movement

Keith Rodd at a Brooklyn Cyclones game
Keith Rodd will join the Mets radio booth after a stint with the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones.
Keith Rodd/Instagram

It was important to WCBS and the Mets. Howie RoseAmong the new contributors are Mets roots. It was actually something they wanted. Josh Levine Left a few years ago, but he could not find someone with those roots and felt Wayne Randazzo Despite not bleeding blue and orange as a kid, was the perfect choice. This time, though, with Randazzo’s replacement, the 29-year-old Keith RoddAnd Patrick McCarthywho will turn 28 in March, has found announcers who were Mets fans who he felt needed to join the booth.

While I don’t think you want complete homers—and there’s no reason to think they would, to be clear—I do believe it makes sense to have people who care as much about the team as they do. People listening on the radio do. It gives a real shared spirit.

McCarthy, the son of a former Mets radioman, Tomthere will be a third person in the booth, who is more likeable. Eddie Colemanis an older character than Brad HellerWho is being replaced by McCarthy and who did not do the play-by-play. McCarthy was a Mets fan when his father broadcast their games, but shifted his allegiance when his father moved to Philadelphia.

Patrick McCarthy (r.) joins the Mets radio team.
Patrick McCarthy (right) also brings Mets roots to the new WCBS radio team.

Both will be lucky to learn from Rose, who I profiled last week when she shared her battle with cancer. Rose is an excellent local radio play-by-player. First, he nails the details of each call. Second, he knows the team’s history as well as anyone, having grown up a Mets fan. Third, this background allows him to relate to the emotions of his audience. So the Mets and WCBS did it right in their search for home announcers.

This is the part you can guess. Now they just have to be good at broadcasting.

Another winner in last year’s Broadcasting Shuffle

You know which of the lists in the top section had a good year? Brian Graves, who chose to leave ESPN to become the quarterbacks coach; Kyle Shanahan How did it work out in San Francisco?

The Griz have to get some, if not a lot, of credit for the rookie. Brooke Purdy looks like Joe Montana during this year. Maybe Purdy can go from Mr. Irrelevant as the last pick to Offensive Rookie of the Year.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) talks with quarterbacks coach Brian Graves during practice on Jan. 26, 2023.
Brian Griez made a successful transition from the ESPN broadcast booth to work with Brook Purdy as the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach.

Griez would have been a little more irrelevant had he stayed at ESPN — he might have gotten assignments on “extra” MNF games — and now might be in position for potential coaching promotions instead.


Phoenix plans columns, notes and hopefully some news from you throughout the week. We’ll top it off next Sunday with a review of the pregame show and Super Bowl broadcast.

We’re also going to have two podcasts this week. The first one drops Wednesday morning, featuring the CEO of Fox Sports. Eric Shanks. The second, on Friday, is set to include a rare interview scheduled with the NFL’s No. 2 executive, chief media and business officer. Brian Rolp. You can subscribe here.

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