08 August 2011

How Many NFL Analysts Does ESPN Need?

For some reason, ESPN has felt that they were in such need of some more NFL analysts and they have been on a hiring spree over the last couple of weeks. Former Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas, former Jets and Browns head coach Eric Mangini, former offensive lineman Damien Woody and as was announced today, the greatest receiver in NFL history, Jerry Rice. One has to wonder how many analysts does the supposed Worldwide Leader in Sports need?
UPDATE: Apparently they have room for one more as Bill Parcells, who worked at ESPN from 2002-03 and 2007-08 is rejoining the network.
With all the various ESPN platforms such as SportsCenter, NFL Live, ESPNEWS, ESPN Radio, the pitiful First Take on ESPN2, there should be a fair amount of analysts on hand, especially considering how big the NFL is. But with all these hirings you might think ESPN may be starting their own NFL Network with so many personalities on hand to help break down the NFL.
As for the hires themselves, I think the analysts out of the crop will be Douglas and Woody. Both had a reputation for colorful personalities and both seem to have the intelligence to be a strong analyst. Douglas has a jumpstart on the others as he has worked for Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia as well as Philly sports radio. He has a positive reputation. Woody is coming in green having retired less than a month ago but he looks to be a strong analytical asset for the ESPN family.
The curious hire is Mangini. Mangini has a reputation for being far from the most personable person and often gave off the impression that he is impassionate and cold. As for his success as a coach, he did a fine job in New York but was an absolute trainwreck in Cleveland. I'm not quite sure what ESPN sees in the man formerly known as "Mangenius."
The big name that stands out is Rice and it's obvious why.  Safe to say he had a pretty productive career. But too many times networks such as ESPN look at the big name and not whether he can be a great analyst. Guys like Dave Winfield, Joe Montana, Jerome Bettis, Joe Gibbs come to mind, and there are many more. I would say the jury is still out on Rice because we have not seen his analysis skills much but as Ben Koo at Awful Announcing notes, the road to broadcasting success does go through Canton.
By the way, you know how they say ESPN does not care about the NHL. Well the most obvious evidence is that they only have TWO hockey analysts. Need not say more.

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