NBC Inks Deal With Former NFLer Hines Ward To Serve As Analyst
NBC Thursday announced that former NFLer Hines Ward will become an analyst for the NBC Sports Group's NFL, college football and studio programming. This will include appearances on the flagship network's "Football Night In America" studio show and on NBC Sports Network programming (NBC). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes the move comes after NBC added Ward “as a guest analyst on its Super Bowl coverage” this past year. However, NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said that Ward “wasn’t a shoo-in when he arrived for the show.” Flood: “We hadn’t decided. What happened was we wanted to see how hard he wanted to work at the Friday and Saturday meetings.” After the show, Flood “saw no need to audition.” Flood: “When you see someone under live fire at the Super Bowl, you know they can handle the job.” Flood said Ward will be on site with host Bob Costas for the NFL’s Week 1 Steelers-Broncos game and “also at the Week 3 Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game.” In addition, he will “do twice-weekly appearances” on NBC Sports Network’s “Sports Talk” weekday show. Hiestand notes with the network recently signing ESPN's Michelle Beadle, Ward “brings celebrity to a fledgling channel that needs more big names to play in the big leagues” (USA TODAY, 6/1). Flood said that it will “be intriguing to have Ward in the studio” with former NFLer Rodney Harrison, a safety, to “break down the receiver-defensive back matchup” (NYTIMES.com, 5/31). Ward said that he “will be tough but fair with his analysis.” Ward: “If I see a player not playing particularly well and if I say he isn’t playing well, I am not bashing him. I am doing my job. I hope guys aren’t going to get offended by what I say. I am not out to be malicious” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 6/1).
TAYLOR MADE: In Miami, Barry Jackson cited sources as saying that ESPN “plans to hire Jason Taylor as an analyst on assorted studio shows.” He will appear on “NFL Live,” “NFL 32” and “SportsCenter” (MIAMIHERALD.com, 5/31).