SBD/Issue 245/Sports Media

Five New NFL Pregame Show Talents To Watch This Season

Last week, I gave viewers five college football broadcasters worth watching this season. This week, I give you five that viewers are not going to want to miss on Sundays during NFL pregame shows: Spero Dedes and Warren Sapp of NFL Network, Cris Carter of ESPN, Michael Strahan of Fox and Dan Patrick of NBC.

Williams Lauds Dedes For Handling Of
"NFL GameDay Morning" Hosting Abilities
SPERO DEDES: He can be seen on “NFL GameDay Morning,” the newest edition to the NFL pregame show lineup. Dedes is known primarily for his NBA play-by-play skills, but here he has taken up the challenge of juggling the responsibilities of hosting this fast-paced show. He demonstrates a good sense of timing as he skillfully moves between the local announcers at each of the game-day sites, seeking their early analysis of the upcoming contests. Dedes also triggers a review of top stories with NFL insider Adam Schefter, gathering last-minute updates on the teams and their players. He also demonstrates a willingness to share the spotlight with analysts Marshall Faulk and Warren Sapp. I was very impressed with the way Dedes took control of his duties in his first week as the host of NFL Network’s new pregame program.

WARREN SAPP: Speaking of Sapp, he is my second broadcaster to watch. The former Pro Bowl NT is animated and informed. As a player he was famous for his “on-the-field analysis” that he provided freely to all his opponents. Now on set with Dedes and NFL Net veteran Faulk, Sapp is a natural. Just like during his playing days, he is not afraid to speak his mind. Sunday, he was one of the few pregame analysts to pick the Ravens to up-end the Bengals. Sapp: “I am telling you, I love Marvin Lewis but his team can’t play defense and the Ravens can. I think Baltimore will be able to run and to keep the ball away from the Bengals. The Ravens play great defense, they will score enough points to win and will shut down the Bengals. I smell upset here.” Bingo.

CRIS CARTER: Over at ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown,” Carter is the new kid, joining returning commentators Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Keyshawn Johnson and Tom Jackson. But Carter is a good addition. His calm, confident manner of analysis complements the bold style of Johnson and Ditka. An example of his ability to provide sharp insight was proven when he was quick to debunk the theory that Brett Favre has to learn the Jets’ offensive system. He said, “I’m so sick of people talking about the system. In the National Football League, most of the systems make the players. But, when someone like Brett Favre shows up, he’s an elite player, he’s a rare talent. When he shows up, you create a system for him because of his ability.”

Strahan's Experience In Front Of The Camera
Shows In Debut On "Fox NFL Sunday"
MICHAEL STRAHAN: On “Fox NFL Sunday,” Strahan is someone who comes right off the field with a clear understanding of the broadcasting business. While a DE with the Giants, he frequently was a guest on a number of national TV and radio shows, as well as appearing in a number of national commercials. So he has a practiced presence in front of the camera. But because he is far from being politically correct, he brings a self-confident edginess to his commentary that is fun to watch. For example, Strahan had some strong comments on coaches being able to communicate defensive plays through a headset to players on the field: “The players don’t like it because the coaches try to over-coach and when you’re out there getting banged in the head, the last thing you want to hear is a coach. When they start banging coaches over the head to make sure they make the right calls, then they’ll have an understanding why this is a bad idea.”

DAN PATRICK: Patrick is not new to television. After a year off the air, though, he has returned to be part of “Football Night In America” on NBC. He wanted to reprise his role as part of the best highlight team in TV history with partner Keith Olbermann. The duo’s work on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” is taught in journalism schools all around the country, earning them not only Emmys, but a best-selling book that helped spawn the TV show “Sports Night.” Now Patrick and Olbermann are back together again, and this is just what “Football Night” needs.

These are my picks for your NFL Sunday. If you are a fan, these guys are the ones to watch.

Jim Williams is a seven-time Sports Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer who lives in Baltimore. He will be reviewing sports programming occasionally for SportsBusiness Daily and SportsBusiness Journal. He can be reached at jameswilliams360@comcast.net.

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