NFL Network starts with Raiders, Chargers and new announcing team
After receiving many bad reviews last year for its three-man booth of Bob Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann, the NFL Network has revamped its announcing team and Thursday night when it kicks off its season with Carson Palmer and the Raiders against the struggling San Diego Chargers and their befuddled quarterback Phillip Rivers, the listening audience might be pleased.
Mike Mayock, who has received positive responses from his work announcing Notre Dame football, has been respected for years for his work with NFL draft coverage, and will be the NFL Network analyst this year.
Brad Nessler is one of those guys doing analysis where you hear him, might not recognize his voice initially, then come to discover that it's Nessler and that you don't recognize him because he is even-toned, mistake-free and knowledgeable. He will be the play-by-play voice on the NFL Network broadcasts.
Mayock said the two, who hadn't worked together before, did some practice games in the studio and found their rhythm almost immediately.
The last time Mayock worked with Nessler, Mayock was a sideline reporter but he says, honestly, that Nessler has always been one of his favorite analysts. "The big thing for us the first night," Mayock said, "is to just not make mistakes. And we both agree, it's the game that's important. Not us."
That philosophy seemed missing last year when Thursday broadcasts often seemed to be debates between Theismann and Millen.
Despite Oakland's loss last week, Mayock thinks Palmer and his strong arm and ability to throw 15-20 yard passes with consistency will ultimately keep the Raiders in the thick of a playoff race in the AFC West that is in no way predictable. Mayock is less cheery about Rivers, who he says "is not playing well."
When Rivers fumbled the snap two weeks ago, Mayock said, "that's one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen, mind-boggling even."
Though Nessler's voice is more familiar to college fans, he has served as lead announcer on the back end of Monday Night Football doubleheaders in 2006 and 2010 and was the radio play-by-play voice for the Falcons from 1982-88 and for the Vikings in 1999.
-- Diane Pucin
Photo: NFL Network’s new Thursday Night Football announcing team of Mike Mayock (analyst) and Brad Nessler (play-by-play). Credit: Shandon Melvin / NFL.