PHOTO: Ex-Cowboys quarterback Danny White (right) working with play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt (left) on the national broadcast of Dallas Cowboys games for Compass Media Networks.
Six straight games the TV play-by-play voice working the Dallas Cowboys game has been a network first-teamer.
Beginning Nov. 3 against the Vikings, the voices have belonged to Fox’s Joe Buck, NBC’s Al Michaels, Buck again, CBS’ Jim Nantz, ESPN’s Mike Tirico and Buck once more.
Should the Cowboys manage to beat the Washington Redskins in Sunday’s noon game, it likely will be Al Michaels for Week 17’s NFC East showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Bucking the trend this week, Fox has assigned rookie Kevin Burkhardt (far right, photo) to call the Cowboys-Redskins on Sunday.
Who? That’s right, Kevin Burkhardt, a former radio voice of your Dallas Cowboys.
What? Yep, Burkhardt worked the last two seasons calling Cowboys games alongside analyst Danny White for Compass Media. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. Compass is a company that put together a network to relay games to markets beyond the more familiar Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.
While the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network includes flagship “The Fan” KRLD-FM (105.3) and outlets around Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, Burkhardt broadcast the brand to stations in Alaska, Hawaii, New York and 31 other states.
When Burkhardt heard Fox was creating a national cable network to be known as Fox Sports 1, he figured he’d apply for work as a college football announcer. After all, he had plenty of high school radio play-by-play experience and had been a last-minute fill-in for the radio call of the 2009 Texas Bowl between Navy and Missouri.
When the Fox folks studied Burkhardt’s work, they called his agent to say that he wouldn’t be working college football. But how would he like calling NFL play-by-play?
It was an incredible offer. Network NFL play-by-play gigs come along maybe once a decade. Look up “ensconced” in the dictionary. There’s a picture of Dick Stockton alongside.
And so Fox paired Burkhardt, 39, with up-and-coming analyst John Lynch, 42, who played 15 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons of safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.
“They put me in a position to succeed,” Burkhardt said in a telephone interview this week. “My partner is the easiest person to work with.”
Working with Burkhardt and Lynch is ubiquitous sideline reporter Erin Andrews, whom Fox lured from ESPN with much accompanying fanfare.
The crew has morphed into a Fox favorite. It will work a playoff game, a plum assignment the weekend of Jan. 11-12. Buck and Troy Aikman, the network lead team, will work the other game before advancing to the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
Last year, Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick worked Fox’s “other” playoff game. Previously, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa called a playoff game for the network dating to 2008.
Calling the second playoff game at Fox is a big deal.
A good effort in their playoff game and Burkhardt, Lynch and Andrews establish themselves as Fox’s No. 2 crew.
“I’m thrilled by all of this,” Burkhardt said. “I’m flattered by the playoff game. This whole thing has been nuts.”