Amazon’s entry into the football broadcasting landscape marks the greatest talent shift in an NFL offseason in years. Al Michaels leaving NBC’s Sunday Night Football booth to join Kirk Herbstreit is still causing shockwaves. Adding former NFL stars Aqib Talib and Andrew Whitworth builds a telecast ripe with knowledgeable talent.
Throwing a seasoned studio host with sideline experience like Charissa Thompson into the fold only enhances the product. However, Amazon runs the risk of having too many cooks in the kitchen with Richard Sherman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tony Gonzalez announcing their allegiance to the network’s vision.
The presence of five football minds allows Thursday Night Football to introduce a younger version of NFL on FOX’s pregame power-hour. But meshing the potluck of personalities is another story.
Talib and Whitworth – the newest additions to Amazon’s studio – spent just one season together in Los Angeles. Dealt to Miami while on the injured-reserve, Talib’s retirement from football after 2019 immediately sparked interest from network executives.
The former Kansas Jayhawk cornerback slipped right into the booth alongside Gus Johnson as a member of FOX’s C-Team. Outranked by FOX’s Kevin Burkhardt/Greg Olsen duo and the Joe Buck/Troy Aikman A-Team, Talib became a polarizing analyst. Known for his flashy attire and abundant comprehension of football, his breakdowns of defenses served as a dynamite lesson to casual and die-hard fans alike.
Talib and Richard Sherman share a resentment for former NFL wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Sherman grabbed headlines in 2014 when the corner taunted the receiver in an animated post-game rant to FOX’s Erin Andrews. Three years later, Talib faced a two-game suspension for famously snatching Crabtree’s necklace during a game.
Whitworth – a 16 year league veteran – retired following the 2021 season, exiting the league a Super Bowl LVI Champion with the Los Angeles Rams.
Talib, Whitworth’s Move to Amazon is Small Potatoes to Power Shift
Al Michaels was always Amazon’s top priority for its inaugural season as a primary primetime distributor of the NFL. Aqib Talib, Andrew Whitworth, Richard Sherman, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Charissa Thompson and Kirk Herbstreit don’t sign on without the savvy vet. That’s the power the iconic broadcaster brings to the table.
Amazon’s entry to the game, spending money on the product is best-case scenario for the league.
FOX losing Thursday Night rights meant Joe Buck and Troy Aikman ditching the network for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. FOX – in need of a new No. 1 crew – pinpointed Tom Brady for a color commentary gig upon his eventual retirement from the league. NBC is rolling with Mike Tirico as Michaels’ replacement on Sunday Night Football.
Without much certainty regarding the league’s power struggle on the gridiron, a different sounding landscape is the only guarantee.