It’s been 18 months since we updated our list of the top NFL analysts, journalists and readers. Here’s how things stand before Tom Brady arrives in 2035.
1) Bomani Jones (ESPN/HBO)
In a field filled with groupthink, Jones stands out as a unique voice. He is known for his commentary on the intersection of sports, culture and race. When commenting in that regard, Jones is unique.
But putting him in just that box would be a disservice to his talent, which is so beautifully showcased on his excellent podcast. Few describe the not-important-but-just-enjoyable combination of silliness and hilarity that helped transform the NFL from a multibillion-dollar sports enterprise into something that embraces performance art.
Jones transitions easily from commentary on sleaze to plans, happily pointing out the quarterback’s flaws as he breaks down the draft system.
With his ESPN contract expiring, Jones will be the most talented free agent in sports media.
2) Mina Kimes (ESPN)
NFL Live is easily the most informative, entertaining football vehicle currently on the web. Kimes, along with Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, and Laura Rutledge, analyze the game from all angles: X’s & O’s, analytics, roster construction, locker room dynamics, and everything in between. NFL Live offers the usual bombast and hot air kicking that dominates the sports media landscape but maintains a place for detail and nuance. At the core of the show, there is a desire to explain the “why” to the audience. And Kimes’ analytical prowess, along with her insight, makes her the ideal person to explain why — why team X does Y, and why Y should/would/could spoil a fan base.
ESPN’s production across all sports is now drenched in hot beats, the result of Stephen A Smith-ing the network (which isn’t always a bad thing!). Kimes is one of those rare analysts who continues to provide insightful, thoughtful analysis.
3) Jenny Vrentas (New York Times)
In the era of ‘Mr. Editor’, Vrentas’ reporting was important. For those who follow these kinds of things, you’ll notice a lack of reports from the league’s rights holders about the allegations against Deshaun Watson and the walk-off controversy involving Daniel Snyder and the Washington Commanders.
Vrentas was there when Watson’s accusations first came to light. And she subsequently wrote several follow-up chapters that independently included a plea from a defendant who did not file a lawsuit against Watson, revealing the extent of Watson’s crimes, and explaining the Houston Texans’ role in securing nondisclosure agreements. for their previous square.
4) Domonique Foxworth (ESPN)
Foxworth stands up to the pundits who refuse to own up to the NFL’s mistakes. He’s a former player, Harvard Business School graduate, NFLPA executive turned TV analyst. His resume distinguishes him on and off the field. He doesn’t necessary ESPN, not even pay TV. It allows him to blaspheme from within the church – which can mean that shows the futility of art. Given his background, Foxworth is happy to go from issues surrounding collective bargaining to breaking records to challenging one of the league’s biggest stars on their indiscretions. There is no other world leader who can fit into all three roles.
5) Billy Gil (Meadowlark Media)
It has been a banner for Billy ‘Guillermo’ Gil of the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz for 18 months. The NFL owns Sundays but it’s Gil who owns Mondays after the game. His weekly Useless Voice montage, a compilation of the best robot actor run-isms and clichés, remains brilliant.
Away from the orbit of the Walt Disney Company, a league partner, Gil is free to take the league to new heights. It was the defining sound of the NFL’s first musical, The Big Game. A musical about head trauma, Brandon Staley, and RedZone’s Witching Hour shouldn’t work, but it sure does.
Gil is also the co-host of the never-ending STUpodity podcast, where he covers the league with conversations with the great and the good, including Joba Chamberlain, Greg Cote, and Kenny G. As always with Gil, what materials that you want to give him, and watch the food.
6) Diante Lee (The Athletic)
Football is a complicated game, but the best X’s & O’s analysts find ways to guide fans through the maze by making things simple. No one does it better than Lee.
Lee is still a coach, and his game analysis is designed to teach rather than burnish his credentials. Now a mainstay of the Athletic Football Show, Lee avoids football as much as possible while still providing insights that hit the erogenous zones of any football nerd.
7) Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler (Around the NFL)
You can’t separate the three main hosts of the NFL podcast and TV show. Through complexity, analysis and ruthless precision, the trio has created a true one-stop shop for fans. The show is the No 1 NFL podcast in the UK, taking viewers inside the circus tent with fun, before offering insightful observations and updates on the league as a whole. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the show has done more to grow the game internationally than the league sending a ropey Jaguar team to London every autumn.
8) Pat McAfee (The Pat McAfee Show)
McAfee has become a medium for fans and journalists to hear about star players live pony Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s head quarterback, has a weekly session/therapy session with McAfee throughout the season.
McAfee’s role is different than anyone else on this list. Part stand-up comedian, part heel, part ex-player, part talk show host, McAfee’s Everyman persona allows people around the game to open up in ways we don’t usually hear — even if he doesn’t feel like he has to back it up. guests Is it journalism? No, is it trying to be? Of course not. But by allowing players to speak freely, he helped reduce the barrier between the stars who filled the league and those who watched them.
9) David Samson (Something Personal)
Samson is the former manager of MLB’s Miami Marlins team, who now hosts Nothing Personal on CBS. Samson is a controversial figure in Florida: he was one of the pioneers of using the public purse to finance the games of billionaire owners, taking taxpayer money to finance the Marlins stadium. And it’s still used as a buzzword by ownership groups that want to squeeze as much out of the taxpayer as possible.
However, since leaving the Marlins, Samson has carved a path as the main voice of sports business and franchise internal affairs in the US and beyond.
Former executives operate under a code of omertà. They don’t want to divulge trade secrets or criticize former partners and competitors if they step back into the inner sanctum. Samson is different. He enjoys revealing the underbelly of great athletes. Whether it’s internal NFL politics, stadium financing, the dynamics of running a locker room, Samson provides information that is usually kept from the public.
10) Aqib Talib (Fox/Amazon)
As the salary for the second man-in-the-corner has increased, their performance has decreased. Tony Romo spends most of the regular season on the phone, only bringing his A-game to the games. Troy Aikman is solid, but invisible. Ditto for Chris Collinsworth. Greg Olsen is a rising star at Fox, but one that is being sidelined when Tom Brady joins the network.
Talib is the strongest departure from the status quo. His more-or-less style may not be to everyone’s taste, but he offers a different perspective than traditional game-day sounds. Amazon hiring Talib for a national broadcast was a smart move. He’s already usurped Romo’s game-guessing crown and more than matched the former quarterback’s infectious enthusiasm.