It’s been 18 months since we updated our list of the best NFL analysts, journalists and pundits. This is how things stand before Tom Brady arrives in 2035.
1) Bomani Jones (ESPN/HBO)
In a field flooded with groupthink, Jones stands out as a unique voice. He is famous for his commentary on the intersection between sports, culture and race. When commenting in that sphere, Jones is unmatched.
But to put him in that box alone would be a disservice to his talents, so well demonstrated on his excellent podcast. It’s the less important but more delightful crossword puzzle between the silly and the funny that helps push the NFL from a multi-billion dollar sports enterprise into something of the ultimate in performance art.
Jones switches from sleaze commentary to schemes with ease, as happy to point out quarterback flaws as he dismantles the draft system.
With his ESPN deal set to expire, Jones will be the most sought-after free agent in sports media.
2) Mina Kimes (ESPN)
NFL Live is the most informative and entertaining football vehicle on the network right now. Kimes, along with Dan Orlovsky, Marcus Spears, and Laura Rutledge, analyze the game from all angles: The X’s & O’s, analytics, roster construction, locker room dynamics, and everything in between. NFL Live offers the usual bombast and puffs of hot air that dominate the sports media landscape but keeps room for subtlety and nuance. At the bottom of the show, there is a desire to explain “why” to the audience. Kimes’ mastery of analytics, combined with her fandom, makes her the ideal person to explain why – why Team X is doing Y, and why should/would/could Y bother fans.
ESPN’s output across all sports is now saturated in hot takes, as a result of Stephen A Smith’s filing of the network (which is not always a bad thing!). Kimes is one of those rare analysts who continues with reasoned, thoughtful analysis.
3) Jenny Vrentas (New York Times)
In the ‘Mr Editor’ era, Vrentas’ reporting was vital. For those who track these kinds of things, you’ll notice that there has been a dearth of coverage from the league’s rights holders on the allegations made against Deshaun Watson and the walk-off controversy between Daniel Snyder and the Washington Commanders.
Vrentas was there when Watson’s accusations first came to light. And she has since written several follow-up pieces including independently corroborating allegations from defendants who did not file a lawsuit against Watson, revealing the extent of Watson’s allegations, and describing the Houston Texans’ role in securing non-disclosure agreements. for their former quarterback.
4) Domonique Foxworth (ESPN)
Foxworth stands apart from the pundits who refuse to address the NFL’s flaws. He’s a former player, turned Harvard Business School graduate, turned NFLPA executive, turned television analyst. His resume on and off the field makes his case. It does not need ESPN, is payday television. That allows him to blaspheme the church from the inside – which could mean showing the lack of meaning of the art form. Given his background, Foxworth is happy to jump from collective bargaining issues to breaking down covers to challenging one of the league’s biggest stars on his dishonesty. The world leader has no one else who can slide into all three roles.
5) Billy Gil (Meadowlark Media)
Billy ‘Guillermo’ Gil from The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz is 18 months old. Sunday belongs to the NFL but Monday after the game belongs to Gil. His weekly Useless Sound Montage, a list of the best coaching clichés and robot players, is always top notch.
Away from the orbit of the Walt Disney Company, a league partner, Gil is free to approach the league from fresh angles. He was the distinctive voice of the first NFL musical, The Big Game. A drama about head trauma, Brandon Staley, and RedZone’s Hour of the Witch shouldn’t work, but it sure does.
Gil is also the co-host of the indomitable STUpodity podcast, where he covers the league through conversations with the great and the good, including Joba Chamberlain, Greg Cote, and Kenny G. As always with Gil, give him whatever ingredients you want, and watch it cook.
6) Diante Lee (Athletic)
Football is a complicated game, but the best X’s & O’s analysts find ways to guide viewers through the maze by making things simple. No one does that better than Lee.
Lee is still a coach, and his analysis of the game is designed to teach rather than flash his own credentials. Now a main feature of the Irish Athletics Football Show, Lee destroys as many of the football players as possible while still providing the insight that hits the erogenous zones of every football nerd.
7) Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus, Marc Sessler (Around the NFL)
You can’t separate the three main hosts of the Around the NFL podcast and television. By blending humor, analysis and ruthless honesty, the trio have built a true one-stop shop for fans. The show is the No 1 NFL podcast in the United Kingdom, drawing fans to the circus tent with celebration, before offering sharp observations and updates on the league in general. It is no exaggeration to say that the show has done more for the growth of the game internationally than the league sending the Jaguars rope team to London every fall.
8) Pat McAfee (The Pat McAfee Show)
McAfee has reached out to fans and journalists alike to hear what the star players are Seriously think. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a weekly residential/therapy session with McAfee during the season.
McAfee’s role is different from that of anyone else on this list. Part stand-up comedian, part heel, part former player, part talk show host, McAfee’s everyman persona allows those around the game to open up in ways we don’t usually hear — even if he feels no obligation to push back at guests. . Is it journalism? Does it want to be? Of course not. But by allowing players to speak in an unfettered way, it helped reduce the barrier between the stars of the series and those who watch them.
9) David Samson (Nothing Personal)
Samson is the former team president of MLB’s Miami Marlins, who now hosts Nothing Personal on CBS. Samson is a controversial figure in Florida: he was one of the pioneers who used the public purse to make money for billionaire owners, drawing funding for the Marlins stadium from taxpayers’ money. And it is still used as a sounding board by ownership groups that want to drain as much money as possible from the taxpayer.
Since leaving the Marlins, however, Samson has carved out a lane as a leading voice covering the business of sports and the internal operations of franchises in the US and beyond.
Former executives operate under a code of omertà. They don’t want to reveal trade secrets or criticize former colleagues and rivals for fear of being invited back into the inner sanctum. Samson is different. It’s a great pleasure to reveal the legacy of extreme sports. Whether it’s internal NFL politics, stadium funding, locker room control dynamics, Samson provides intel that is often kept from the public.
10) Aqib Talib (fox/Amazon)
As salaries for the second man in the booth increased, their performance declined. Tony Romo spends most of the regular season calling it quits, only bringing his A-game to the playoffs. Troy Aikman is solid but unspectacular. Ditto for Chris Collinsworth. Greg Olsen is a rising star with Fox, but he has to be sidelined when Tom Brady joins the network.
Talib is the strongest departure from the status quo. His understated style may not appeal to everyone, but he offers a different perspective to the traditional matchday voices. It was smart when Amazon took the Talib out for a national broadcast. He’s already pinned Romo’s playmaking crown and more than matches the former quarterback’s infectious enthusiasm.