With the summer solstice in the rearview mirror, the days will get shorter and so too will the wait for football. Football! It's time to start sketching out some fantasy mock drafts and making sure all Sunday plans are canceled so maximum time can be spent in front of the television. This NFL season will bring a tremendous amount of change to the top broadcasting booths across the dial. There are some familiar faces in new places and it'd be helpful to have a scorecard to keep track of all the substitutions and double-switches.
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ESPN's Monday Night Football — Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
Aikman's stunning departure from Fox made a lot more sense when the price tag was revealed and all the sense in the world when Buck followed suit. ESPN's coup leaves them with the best broadcast booth in all of football and will inject much-needed life into the Monday Night Football property. The duo will not be subject to the usual growing pains and will hit the ground running. One could argue that these series of events are the sports media story of the year. We'll know for sure when The Big Lead's Sports Media Awards drop in December. That's called a tease, folks.
Amazon Prime's Thursday Night Football — Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit
Michaels was the belle of the ball as his time at NBC ticked away, and Amazon decided to swing for the fences with the 77-year-old. He'll bring the essential gravitas a new broadcast partner needs to carry and will be buoyed by the presence of Herbstreit, who is the best analyst working on any level. Thursday night games are in need of a rejuvenation and such a marquee pairing should do the job.
NBC's Sunday Night Football — Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth
Michaels' departure was something that was planned for and Tirico has been waiting in the wings, calling occassional NFL games while working Notre Dame Saturdays and should transition into the full-time role seamlessly. Collinsworth could have good chemistry with a block of granite so this broadcast should continue to be elite.
Fox — Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen
Filling the shoes of Buck and Aikman is a tall task but Burkhardt has been nothing but solid during his Fox career. Olsen, too, has been a great addition to Fox's stable. It will be a different experience in those late Sunday windows, yet still enjoyable.