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Friday, July 12, 2024

Roger Goodell Rips ‘Below Standard’ NFL Network Broadcasts in Trial Testimony

  • Goodell was testifying in the NFL’s Sunday Ticket lawsuit.
  • NFL Network lost the Thursday night broadcast more than a decade ago. 
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Goodell found himself in a unique position for an NFL commissioner Monday: testifying in federal court. 

Among his revelations? He was not a big fan of his own product, the NFL Network. 

Goodell took the stand in the NFL Sunday Ticket lawsuit, in which fans are alleging the league broke antitrust laws by selling its package at an inflated cost. 

While testifying about the package and the dynamics around it, Goodell said one of the reasons the league sold its Thursday night games that were previously exclusive to NFL Network was because of the broadcast quality. 

NFL Network exclusively had the Thursday night games from 2006 to ’13 before splitting time between CBS and NBC for the following three years. Fox had the rights for the next five seasons starting in ’17 before Amazon Prime Video took over in ’22. 

“I had my own opinion that our production was below standards that the networks had set,” he testified Monday, referring to CBS and Fox. “We had not met that standard.”

The NFL Network’s inaugural broadcast crew in 2006 of Bryant Gumbel, Cris Collinsworth, and Dick Vermeil never made magic from the booth, and Gumbel was subjected to heavy criticism for his play-by-play skills. He lasted on the job for only two seasons. Collinsworth has since become a staple on NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcasts as the color analyst alongside Mike Tirico. 

Michael McCarthy, Front Office Sports’ media columnist, shared Goodell’s analysis. “Goodell has a point,” he said. “Despite being a sports TV legend, Bryant Gumbel was disappointing as TNF’s first play-by-play announcer. Over subsequent seasons, NFLN employed a hodgepodge of rotating announcers and analysts. But NFLN games never matched the crisp quality of games produced by broadcast networks like CBS, Fox, and NBC, which have televised NFL games for decades.”

Goodell might be rid of the NFL Network for good in the coming months. In May, it was reported that the NFL could invest a minority stake in ESPN in exchange for the broadcast giant taking over NFL Network.

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