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Drew Brees, Mike Tirico To Call First NFL Game This Week

“Brees is on the game call with Mike Tirico when the Saints battle the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.”

The New Orleans Saints are honoring Drew Brees on Thanksgiving all while he calls the game for NBC.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: NBC

Drew Brees is preparing for a special Thanksgiving this year, although he’ll still be working. The Saints organization is honoring their former quarterback at halftime in his first time back at the Superdome since retiring at the end of the 2020 season.

Brees is on the game call with Mike Tirico when the Saints battle the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. The two have been working together all Notre Dame Football season, broadcasting Fighting Irish games for NBC.

“My family and I are forever grateful for all the incredible moments we shared together with the city of New Orleans and Who Dat Nation,” Brees said in a press release. “What an incredible moment it will be, back in the Dome with the greatest fans in the world.”

Amazon is entering the NFL broadcast space starting next year and has rumored interest in bringing in Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. The two have been calling games together on NBC for over a decade, but all good things must come to an end. FOX’s Troy Aikman has also been mentioned as a possible target.

NBC hired Tirico to eventually take over Sunday Night Football from Michaels. There was no clear date set for passing the baton but that time is coming and NBC executives will get their first taste of Tirico and Brees together on an NFL call this coming Thursday. 

Many assumed Brees and Tirico would groom their chemistry on the college circuit before taking over the reins of NBC’s top property. Thanksgiving is the next step in that process, and it will be interesting to see how Brees handles all of the firsts on Thanksgiving. 

“Drew Brees will always be considered one of the greatest Saints in the history of the organization,” said Saints owner Gayle Benson. “While we look forward to one day welcoming Drew back as a Hall of Famer and a member of our Ring of Honor, Thanksgiving night is the perfect opportunity for us to say thank you to Drew and his family the right way- on the field and in front of 70,000 of the best fans in football.”

Sports TV News

FOX Confirms It Will Be a Part of USFL’s Second Season in 2023

The network will continue to be a USFL TV partner next year, according to Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks. Shanks is the chairman of the league’s board of directors.

Jordan Bondurant

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The USFL appears to be headed for a second season in 2023, and Fox Sports will be along for the ride.

The network will continue to be a USFL TV partner next year, according to Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks. Shanks is the chairman of the league’s board of directors.

Between Fox and NBC, game broadcasts in the league’s inaugural season averaged 695,000 viewers.

The league does not plan to add new teams for 2023, but Shanks indicated the league is planning to have regular season games played in other cities, not just Birmingham, Alabama where this season was held.

Shanks did say there is a desire to add more teams potentially in 2024 as well as having teams play in their home cities.

The USFL championship game will be this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. between the Philadelphia Stars and the Birmingham Stallions. The game will air on FOX.

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Sports TV News

Ben Bitonti Hired to Head Unscripted Programming at Game1

Game1, a production company focused on original sports content, have hired Ben Bitonti to be its chief creative officer and head of unscripted programming.

Jordan Bondurant

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Game1

Game1, a production company focused on original sports content, have hired Ben Bitonti to be its chief creative officer and head of unscripted programming.

Bitonti joins Game1 after previously serving at 101 Studios as EVP of non-fiction TV and alternate programming. He helped launch the company’s unscripted division.

Ben has a range of experience in both unscripted and scripted content production.

“Adding a supremely talented executive like Ben to the game1 team will truly help transform our business,” said Game1 co-founder and chairman Basil Iwanyk. “His expertise and creative storytelling instincts in the unscripted realm are unparalleled. He will help us take the solid foundation that we’ve already built and get it to the next level.”

Bitonti said he’s ready to hit the ground running.

“I’m thrilled to dig in and help build out unscripted efforts and more with our team at game1,” he said. “Sports and athlete driven content continue to be a constant growth sector of our industry, and game1 is uniquely positioned to be a leading contributor to that growth.”

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Sports TV News

Lindsay Czarniak Says the Timing Was Right to Leave ESPN

“The end there it was something that I look back on, and it wasn’t a negative,” she said. “I think at the time the timing was right for it to happen”.

Jordan Bondurant

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Lindsey Czarniak

Lindsay Czarniak holds no ill-will towards ESPN. She is enjoying having the chance to work on FOX’s NASCAR and NFL coverage in addition to working on CBS’ coverage of the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX).

Talking to Jon Lewis and and T.J. Rives on the Sports Media Watch Podcast, Czarniak said she loved having the chance to anchor SportsCenter, but her heart was in actually being at events on the ground.

“The end there it was something that I look back on, and it wasn’t a negative,” she said. “I think at the time the timing was right for it to happen. And truth be told, they were really great.”

“I knew at that point that there was other stuff that I wanted to do,” she added. “And so the way that it played out it became very apparent that this is the time where if I can go out and explore doing some more event coverage rather than just doing solo studio hosting only, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Czarniak cleared up a point about the end of her run on SportsCenter. She said she knew before she was slated to go on maternity leave in 2017, she would no longer be anchoring the 6 p.m. show. So she wasn’t caught off guard or left in the dark about changes the network made to the show at the time.

But Czarniak said she never lost sight of the opportunity she had at ESPN. She just felt like she needed to get back to reporting.

“(Hosting SportsCenter) was a blast, and there were certain times that it felt like, wow this is the best thing I’ve ever done on a national level and this is awesome,” she said. “But I also just really loved being able to develop those relationships on my own and have that access.”

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