Change is on the way to “Thursday Night Football.”
It was announced Wednesday that the NFL will partner with CBS to produce and televise 16 games under the “Thursday Night Football” banner for the 2014 season.
CBS will air eight early-season games before NFL Network takes the baton for eight late-season games leading up to the playoffs. Fourteen games will be played Thursday, with two late-season games taking place Saturday.
All 16 games will be produced by CBS with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms — the network’s No. 1 announcing team — calling Thursday night games. The first eight games on CBS will be simulcast on NFL Network. The agreement is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL’s option.
“NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for ‘Thursday Night Football’ on CBS.”
What does this mean? Well, “Thursday Night Football” is about to get bigger. Airing eight games in prime time on television’s top-rated network will be a ratings bonanza. Expect to see some premium matchups in those first eight weeks as the brand is established on a new platform. The CBS ratings surge should create momentum when NFL Network takes over in the season’s back end.
Many fans also will be pleased to see the return of NFL football on Saturdays, something that slipped off the grid in recent years. The only real negative on our end? This looks like the end for the Thursday night team of NFL Network’s Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who have done quality work for the past three seasons.
Hall of Fame coach and legendary broadcaster John Madden gave a heartfelt speech at the memorial service for Pat Summerall on Saturday. The two worked games together for 22 years.
“He is the voice of the NFL,” Madden said. “To me, he wasn’t a braggart. To me, he was John Wayne.”
Summerall passed away Tuesday at the age of 82. He played 10 years in the NFL and worked a record 16 Super Bowls on television.
Madden, who’s been known to ramble at times, said he could hear Summerall’s voice, “Brevity, brevity, brevity” in his head, during his speech. The two friends have said goodbye twice before — during their final game together on CBS and during their final game as a broadcast team on Fox after Super Bowl XXXVI.
“This is the third goodbye. The toughest,” Madden struggled to say. “Goodbye, Pat. Rest in peace. I love you.”
JOHN MADDEN AND PAT SUMMERALLS LAST BROADCAST:
BROADCAST LEGEND REMEMBERED: Pat Summerall’s funeral will take place on Saturday; open to the public
We have some news on Pat Summerall’s funeral to pass along. Summerall died Tuesday at the age of 82.
The funeral will take place Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas (a Dallas suburb). It will be open to the public.
We’ll pass along more information as it becomes available.
RELATED: Jerry Jones statement on Pat Summerall
Here is the statement from Jerry Jones issued Tuesday on the death of Pat Summerall:
“Pat was the NFL’s narrator for generations, with a voice that was powerful, eloquent and distinctive.
“His presence at an NFL game elevated that event to a higher level. He was royalty in the broadcast booth. He was respected and admired by players, coaches, commissioners and Presidents of our country—and always a gentleman—someone who had time for the fans in the parking lot after the game.
“Humility and kindness were his closest companions. He was a trusted friend and confidant, and for all of his immense talents as a professional, he was an even better person.
“For a man who could dramatically capture a moment with very few words, there simply aren’t enough words to adequately describe what he meant to sports and broadcasting in this country.
“There is no question that Pat broadcast more Dallas games on CBS and FOX than any other man, and this is a great loss for thousands of Cowboys fans who spent their Sunday afternoons in the living room with Pat.
“Our hearts go out to Cheri and his family. Pat was an icon and an American original.”
RELATED: Brad Sham remembers Pat Summerall
IRVING, Texas – The way Brad Sham sees it, Pat Summerall has few peers when it comes to the history of sports broadcasting.
“He’s at the top,” said Sham, the longtime voice of the Dallas Cowboys and one of Summerall’s friends. “Vince Scully is there. Red Barber. Some of this is now chocolate and vanilla, but whatever short list there is, he’s on it and he’s out front.”
Through the years Sham became friends with Summerall and was part of an old-timers media group that would meet for lunch every so often. Sham would have Summerall re-tell stories he had heard dozens of times, just to hear them again. The last time the group met came March 5.
“You have to separate it personally and professionally,” Sham said. “Professionally, he should have been the model for every television play-by-play person. He was living proof that less could be more. He knew exactly how to make the event the star of the show and still partly because of the voice God gave him but partly because he knew what to do with it, everybody knew it was a Summerall event and that made it a big deal. As the head coach of the Cowboys might say, that was his genius. He knew how to make the event the star of the show.
“Personally, he was such a nice man. He was so gentle … He could talk about what things were like when he played. He could talk about what things were like in television as he worked and saw things unfold. And he could talk about the arts, about pop culture. The fact that his Christian faith was so important to him in the last decade of his life, it kept him grounded and delighted.”
Summerall’s presence could be felt whenever he walked into a press box, according to Sham, not because of domineering personality, but because of the reverence people had for him.
“The era we live in is not an era of eloquent gentility,” Sham said. “The era we live in is an era of look-at-me noise. Media helps shape that and also reflects it so that fact that people don’t (emulate Summerall) and do what he did or try to doesn’t surprise me, but it’s a damn shame.
“We say a lot that someone was one of a kind. He was. And they stopped making them a long time ago.”
RELATED: Much more reaction to Pat Summerall’s death from athletes, analysts, writers, others
CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist: “Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years. He was a master of restraint in his commentary, an example for all of us. He was also one of the great storytellers who ever spoke into a microphone.”
Pat Summerall died Tuesday. He was 82.
That’s how Summerall, almost a decade ago, said he would craft the first sentences of his obituary — short and to the point.
The legendary sports broadcaster died in his hospital room at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, where he was recovering from surgery for a broken hip, a family friend said.
Summerall’s comment about his obituary was made at his Southlake home after a 2004 liver transplant that saved his life. He was serious.
Typical … succinct … vintage Summerall.
His minimalist staccato style coupled with a deep, authoritative voice was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers.
Summerall worked 16 Super Bowls in a network career that began at CBS in 1962 and ended at Fox in 2002.
LOOKING FORWARD: The future of the NFL Pro Bowl could incorporate the NCAA Senior Bowl (Special Feature)
So what would a Pro Bowl-less NFL calendar look like? According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, one possibility would be replacing the game with a college all-star game.
Breer writes that the AFC and NFC’s all-star team could be recognized at the NFL Honors award show on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, with the college players hitting the field after.
"That game would likely be an existing college event, most likely the Senior Bowl, which would be moved to be part of the NFL calendar, with the thought that it could kick off draft season and highlight prospects on a bigger stage, though the league would certainly be careful about NCAA rules entanglements," Breer writes.
The concept would be to mix today’s stars with future stars. Breer’s well-researched piece has comments from NFL executive vice president of business ventures Eric Grubman, who sounds like he doesn’t see a traditional Pro Bowl in the future.
Giving us renewed hope the "Whaaazzzzzzzzup" guys may get the resurrection from TV purgatory they so clearly deserve, CBS still has a small amount of ad space available for next year’s Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
CBS has sold 80 percent of its ads for the big game, which has set U.S. ratings records three years running. CBS is asking a record-high $3.8 million per 30-second spot for the game.
That will buy a lot of Crystal Pepsi overstock.
"The game has moved early," said John Bogusz, executive vice president of sales and marketing for CBS Sports. "We’re certainly well ahead of where we were three years ago (the last time CBS carried the game)."
While the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys both lost last weekend, the damage by those defeats can easily be mitigated thanks to what’s at stake this weekend.
The Giants will try to end a four-game losing streak Sunday night on the road against the Cowboys as these rivals play for the NFC East lead.
Dallas (7-5) leads New York (6-6) by one game. The Giants led the race by two before their slide.
The Cowboys had their four-game win streak snapped thanks to mistakes that included poor clock management in last Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss at Arizona – a defeat that cost them a chance to clinch the division this weekend.
"Most importantly, we have to put this one to bed and go to the next one," coach Jason Garrett said.