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Kirk Herbstreit Reportedly Amazon’s Choice For ‘Thursday Night Football’

Calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC is a lot to take on.

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Amazon has reportedly found its analyst for Thursday Night Football. According to NBC Sports’ Peter King, Kirk Herbstreit is the choice for the streaming platform and retailer. King reported the news in his weekly Football Morning in America column.

The decision comes a week after the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reported that Herbstreit was under consideration by Amazon after Troy Aikman signed with ESPN, Sean McVay decided to remain Los Angeles Rams coach, and San Francisco 49ers John Lynch declined the opportunity. (Former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton was also reportedly in the mix, but those discussions apparently didn’t progress.)

According to King, Herbstreit will continue his current role with ESPN/ABC as the network’s top college football game analyst and commentator on Saturday pregame show College GameDay.

Marchand reported that Herbstreit’s contract might allow him to broadcast NFL games with another network while continuing to call college football for ESPN. But that depended on how Disney’s lawyers interpreted his current agreement. Judging from Amazon’s decision, however, Herbstreit’s deal allows for that very option.

As King says in his column, Herbstreit seems like an unusual choice considering most of his broadcasting experience is in college football. But he’s called some NFL games during the past few years and has said he was interested in calling both sports if the opportunity was available.

Herbstreit worked NFL Draft coverage for ESPN in 2018 and last year for ABC. He also called the first game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader with regular play-by-play partner Chris Fowler to kick off the 2020 NFL season. And this past season, the duo called the first game of ESPN/ABC’s NFL Week 18 Saturday doubleheader.

The question now becomes who calls play-by-play alongside Herbstreit on Thursday Night Football. Amazon has pursued Al Michaels for the position, but ESPN is also interested in pairing him with Aikman on Monday Night Football. But if ESPN is somehow able to snatch Joe Buck away from Fox, Michaels will presumably go to Amazon.

The belief has been that Michaels prefers to work with an experienced analyst, rather than break in a first-timer like McVay or Payton. Herbstreit has mostly called college football, of course, but has plenty of experience broadcasting football, is a seasoned professional, and should work smoothly with Michaels.

Amazon surely wanted to make a big splash with its TNF broadcast team and Herbstreit is a different enough choice to be intriguing, even if he might not carry the same recognition among NFL fans as Aikman or attract the curiosity that McVay or Payton would have.

But as Marchand has said in some of his analysis of the story, Herbstreit is, above all, a broadcaster. By that measure, he’s arguably the best choice for the position among available analysts. He’s not a coach-turned-broadcaster. There’s no question as to whether or not he can do the job.

And while Herbstreit is a personality, especially with college football commentary, he’s an insightful, informative analyst who explains to the viewer what happened and why very clearly. Additionally, he explains what coaches and players are thinking on many plays based on his conversations with them throughout the week. He’s not afraid to be critical or protect people with whom he has relationships.

Yet Herbstreit’s workload will also be a question going into the upcoming football season. Calling Thursday Night Football, then doing College GameDay on Saturday, followed by a college football broadcast for ESPN or ABC is a lot to take on. Other NFL broadcasters like Aikman have called Thursday night and Sunday games. But Herbstreit would obviously have one less day to make the transition from the NFL to college football, and already has to deal with going from the GameDay location Saturday morning to the game he calls in the evening.

Some believed that his more controversial commentary during the last college football season was a result of him being asked to do too much, calling games then appearing on ESPN’s studio coverage, followed by another game broadcast. Could that be an issue as Herbstreit attempts to juggle both NFL and college football obligations? Perhaps, but he certainly appears eager for the opportunity.

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Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts

“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”

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In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage. 

Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.

“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.

“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”

Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion. 

“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.” 

When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone: 

“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.” 

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AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive

“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”

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Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.

While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.

A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.

After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.

The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.

“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”

You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket. 

Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.

While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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