Make the Main NFL Broadcast Fun Again

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Smart bettors should be hammering the over when it comes to weekly pieces teasing potential new ideas for NFL alternate broadcasts. The undeniable success of the ManningCast for ESPN has sent other network executives scrambling to meeting rooms with heavy glass doors to cook up the next big idea. And largely those ideas have been the same one reheated in the break-room microwave. Some version of uninspired blandness, like the one being floated as a potential weapon for Amazon.

Front Office Sports' Michael McCarthy reports:

Maybe Drew Brees won’t be playing pickleball after all this fall. The former NBC Sports analyst is being eyed by Amazon Prime Video as one of the stars of a “Quarterbacks Only” Megacast of “Thursday Night Football,” said sources.

The alternate “QBs Only” telecast would run for 4-6 weeks in support of Amazon’s main TNF stream with Kirk Herbstreit and Al Michaels.

However, nothing is finalized, said sources. The “QBs Only” is one of “multiple ideas” on the drawing board at Amazon, said sources. There could be as many as three TNF Megcasts running 4-6 games during the 2022 season, said sources. 

America either has a shared fetish for celebrity quarterbacks or one is being created based on a misguided belief that anyone can match the wattage, charisma, and rapport of Peyton and Eli Manning. The latter seems more likely to me. Because I really believe that the average football fan is not reading the following paragraph and getting excited.

Amazon has already hired former New York Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Former Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre recently told TMZ Sports he’d “consider” broadcasting NFL games for the right price. Ex-Chicago Bears QBJ ay Cutlert old FOS he’d like another shot at NFL TV. Then there’s the retiredPhilip Rivers, who some TV executive envision as a latter day “Dandy” Don Meredith.

A cynic could survey the landscape and conclude that it doesn't even matter if Amazon's additional offerings are any good. What's most important is that they will exist and provide more points of entry for eyeballs and further enrich some of the deepest pockets in the world. We're all adults here and understand that, though the deluge of uninspired ideas has consequentially skewed far too old and bland.

Secondary broadcasts exist to have a secondary method of conversion. They do not exist because they are solving a problem. But we've been conditioned over the past few years, through analysis and alternate proliferation, to think that there's something wrong with the main broadcast. When, in reality, it remains the superior way to watch a game if you want to keep abreast of what's going on.

It's about attitude. Compare Hank Williams Jr. loudly counting all his rowdy friends coming over to watch Monday Night Football with these trial balloons pleading with fans to please watch the game. One had attitude. The other is desperately trying to find a way to pander to the extreme minority. Smarter people than I can figure out the best way to swing the pendulum back, but a first step seems to be embracing the magnitude of the traditional presentation and steering in to the bigness of it all.

Football is king and will remain king until we're all in the ground. A tremendous amount of time and energy is being expended to gain ground around the fringes. It makes sense yet it also seems a bit risky to take one of the very few communal mass experiences that still exists and saturate it. To make it more fragmented.

Obviously, these bells and whistles and retired quarterbacks are not for me. The new iterations will continue until morale improves or there are no fewer than a dozen ways to watch a single game. It doesn't have to be this way and there are unlimited resources to re-invest into the best product on the market. So why not do that instead?