The Best NFL TV Job You've Never Heard Of
By TJ Hatter
If you're an NFL fan, you've probably watched one of the countless studio shows here in the U.S. and thought, “I can do that, but they only hire players.” You'd be right. Other than the host who facilitates the conversation, everyone else has played and /or coached the game at the NFL level. The exceptions began emerging just over a decade ago when "Pardon The Interruption" and "Around The Horn" first appeared on the scene and then went on to spawn some copycat shows with varying degrees of success. But the fact of the matter is that, when it comes to game coverage in the U.S., analyst roles are the player/coaches domain.
But that's not true everywhere.
Earlier this week I wrote about the NFL and the prospect of the league placing a team in London permanently. Regardless of whether the NFL eventually takes their relationship with Great Britain to the next level, at this moment the best NFL announcing job – that you have never heard of – already exists: It's covering the NFL in the U.K. Among your show choices are a highlight reel show, anchoring coverage of the games in Wembley Stadium and the Jewel in the Crown: NBC Sunday Night Football, Live in the United Kingdom on the U.K.'s Channel 4.
Now let me start with the highlight show and the live coverage gigs: both are terrific. Curious about who has them? I've got you covered. Now, are you wondering who those folks are? Got you covered. Vernon Kay has playing experience with the London Warriors but before that makes you nervous, it's essentially the U.K. equivalent of a D-III college or elite U.S. high school level, so Kay is a fan who played the game, which is similar to many people across the U.S. Colin Murray is a host with no recorded playing experience, which is also similar to many NFL fans in the U.S. Which means that both could be placed right along side a smart NFL fan and no one would bat an eye. Certainly different than what you see on TV over here. These are shows by fans, for fans.
But both of those shows are appetizers to the main course. Hosting Sunday Night Football is the duo of Nat Coombs and Mike Carlson. Are you interested in their noteworthy playing experience? Don't be, because they don't have any. Mike Carlson is a solid analyst, and a versatile sportswriter. Nat Coombs is a comedian, a good host, and an NFL fan. Congrats to both on snagging such a fantastic assignment.
How great is this job? Let me count the ways:
1) Your Audience
The audience is comprised of American expats, hardcore European NFL fans, gamblers, and people enjoying a few pints. In other words: My kind of people. Why is that exactly? Because these games don't start until after midnight or even later. On a Sunday. It's hard for your TV bosses to be angry with your ratings for a show that airs at 1AM BST. It's not impossible, but it's hard. Unless there is a holiday the next day, or even if there is one, the folks tuning into this game are a unique crowd. That means that your audience is, like the audience to this website, highly educated about the NFL.
2) The Format
In Great Britain there are seldom commercials on broadcast TV. Which means that every time the game stops, the camera turns right back to your studio show, not unlike the way that the NFL RedZone operates. However, there is a big difference: Hosting the NFL RedZone is undoubtedly a tougher gig. Scott Hanson and Andrew Siciliano are traffic cops navigating concurrent live games, doing bits of play-by-play, and are in studio for seven straight hours with few breaks. That kind of TV is a highwire act. Both do it extremely well. This show has a tamer pace. Sure, during breaks you'll have some game highlights and league wide results to discuss – you can't break down every third down and a cloud of dust – but primarily the job of the show is focusing on one game and issues surrounding it, thus making PTI, rather than RedZone, the more apt comparison. This is PTI with a game folded around it. Which makes for television that's fun to watch and likely more fun to participate in.
I have a fairly well-stamped passport, and I struggle to think of another place on Earth I'd rather spend my time. For those who haven't gone, book a flight when you can, perhaps coinciding with the next time your team heads over there. The history, culture, people and sights are second to none. You'd be on TV and living in London. Yet you'd still maintain relative anonymity. Why? Because the show is on after midnight on Sundays. Transpose that to the amount of vitriol the average sportscaster gets on Twitter here in the U.S. It's a welcome swap.
Covering the NFL in the UK is the best sports job you hadn't heard of until today. It also could get better. Particularly due to the prospect that the NFL will move a team to London. The Jaguars are the most likely target, given their problems in Jacksonville, the fact that their owner also owns an English Premier League Team – Fulham – in the U.K. already, and that the NFL would like to expand into the UK. Also, the name makes sense: The London Jaguars. The mascot can be the cat driving a fancy car across the M1. Earlier this week, I outlined some of the problems with a London team. But that doesn't mean it isn't going to happen.
If the NFL moves a team here, the coverage of the sport will only grow.
The NFL isn't the only one who hears London calling.