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Witten, Arians among new additions to broadcast lineups

It isn't just the teams that alter their rosters during the off-season. The networks also make various moves and changes for their NFL coverage.

With the season set to kick off Thursday, here are some new looks viewers can expect to see on the television front in 2018.

FOX Sports

The network decided to go all-in on Thursday night, signing a five-year deal to broadcast that package. FOX's No. 1 crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will kick off its Thursday night coverage in week 2 with Baltimore at Cincinnati. That game, along with the Jets at Cleveland in week 3, will air exclusively on NFL Network.

Then beginning with the week 4 Minnesota-Los Angeles Rams game on Sept. 27, Thursday night games will air on FOX, NFL Network, and will be streamed live on Amazon Prime Video through week 15, excluding Thanksgiving night. For those games, FOX will unveil a new pregame show live from New York hosted by Michael Strahan, who will be joined by Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long.

Bradshaw, who turned 70 Sunday, apparently isn't interested in slowing down. After working in New York for the Thursday night games, he will fly to Los Angeles for his 25th year on the FOX NFL Sunday pregame show.

Meanwhile, Buck and Aikman will begin their 17th year as FOX's lead announce team, the longest-running pairing for any network.


Make a note to adjust your game clocks. After an opening week doubleheader, Monday night games will kick off 15 minutes earlier this year at 8:15 p.m. ET, beginning with the Seattle-Chicago game on Sept. 17.

Much of the focus will be on ESPN's new Monday Night Football team of Joe Tessitore, Jason Whitten, and Booger McFarland. Here is my previous column on Witten making the transition to the booth.

There will be comparisons to the previous Monday night analyst, Jon Gruden, right off the bat. Witten and the ESPN crew will be on hand Monday to see their old friend's return to the sidelines with its coverage of the Los Angeles Rams-Oakland game at 10:20 p.m. ET. Beth Mowins and Brian Griese will be on the call for the doubleheader opener, New York Jets at Detroit, at 7:10 p.m. ET.

Other changes of note for ESPN: Louis Riddick will be on site for all the Monday night games, joining Suzy Kolber and Steve Young for ESPN's halftime and postgame coverage.

Victor Cruz and John Fox are among the new additions to ESPN's stable of NFL analysts. Molly Qerim is the new host of Fantasy Football Now on ESPN2 on NFL Sundays. The three-hour show airs opposite of Sunday NFL Countdown.


Mike Tirico is taking over for Dan Patrick as the new studio host for Football Night in America for NBC's coverage of Sunday night games. He will work with analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, and NFL Insider Mike Florio, from Studio 1 at NBC Sports' International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Conn.

"As one of the most accomplished, respected and versatile voices in sports, Mike was the logical choice to move into the Football Night studio," said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC Sports.

Meanwhile, Liam McHugh will assume Tirico's old role as the host from the game site.

"This is the logical progression for Liam, who has excelled at every assignment he's been given," Flood said.

NBC also is adding new rules analyst Terry McAulay, an NFL referee for 20 seasons.


CBS will broadcast its 20th Super Bowl in February. It will be the first one for Tony Romo, who begins his second as the network's lead analyst.

Bruce Arians is a major addition on the analyst front. The former Arizona coach will work with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green in that booth. He is only the third former coach to work as an analyst for CBS since John Madden departed in 1993. The others were Sam Wyche (1998-2001) and Jerry Glanville (2003).

Former 15-year NFL veteran referee Gene Steratore will do double duty, joining CBS Sports as its NFL Rules Analyst and NCAA Basketball Rules Analyst. Following the NFL season, the former 21-year NCAA Division I Basketball referee will work the NCAA Tournament for CBS.

NFL Network

NFL GameDay Prime, the network's Sunday night highlights and game analysis show, now also will air on FOX affiliates at 11:30 ET. Charissa Thompson will serve as host with analysts Deion Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shannon Sharpe.

Reggie Bush joins NFL Network as a new analyst. He will be on the Saturday edition of Good Morning Football: Weekend, as well as NFL Total Access Thursday Night Football pregame shows.

Good Morning Football: Weekend now airs from 9 a.m.-noon ET on Saturdays. Saturday's edition will feature Colleen Wolfe, Bush, Michael Robinson and Mike Garafolo. Sunday's show, which airs at 7 a.m. ET, will have Wolfe, Steve Smith Sr., Robinson and Garafolo.

Philly Celebration:Eagles fans will want to tune in to NFL Network Wednesday night. The network will have two films celebrating the defending Super Bowl champs.

Philly Special: Doug Pederson and the 2017 Eagles airs at 8:00 p.m. ET, on NFL Network, providing a behind-the-scenes look at some of the biggest moments and decisions that led to the Eagles' first Super Bowl championship in franchise history. The film features interviews with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and others.

Then at 9 p.m. ET, America's Game: 2017 Eagles premieres, featuring in-depth interviews with Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Brandon Graham and LeGarrette Blount telling the story of the Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles. Narrated by actor and Philadelphia native, David Boreanaz, America's Game delves deep into the Eagles' historic season.

This year's edition of America's Game is the 52nd episode of the long-running special which celebrates the Super Bowl champions.

A Football Life: NFL Network debuts its 11-episode season of A Football Life with a look at Carson Palmer on Friday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. ET.

Upcoming films include:

September 21 -- Lawrence Taylor

September 28 -- Tony Romo

October 5 -- Willie McGinest

October 12 -- Brian Dawkins

Other films will feature Lawrence Taylor, Dwight Clark, Cris Collinsworth and Bill Cowher.

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