Color commentators have it tough. Even the best of them are still torn to shreds by sofa-dwelling critics who think they could do a better job breaking down games on the fly. This website has about 10 of them. But top CBS analyst Phil Simms has taken such a public beating of late that you have to wonder what the future holds for him.
The fact that Simms has lasted as long as he has in this job -- he's been a lead analyst since he joined NBC in 1995, one year after retiring from the NFL -- indicates the networks love him despite the fact he's become a caricature of everything that people hate about the current sports broadcasting landscape. Simms' form has dropped in the last few years and that was played out on the game's biggest stage.
Sports broadcasting is notoriously slow to change and it'd be a shock if CBS did not let Simms work his seventh Super Bowl when the network televises Super Bowl L from either San Francisco or Miami on Feb. 7, 2016. But if things change between now and then, here are potential candidates who could analyze the 50th Super Bowl...
I don't think CBS would bench Simms for Dan Dierdorf or Dan Fouts because both have been doing this for a long time and neither is considered to be a rising star. Rich Gannon is too green and dry and I can't see Steve Tasker, Solomon Wilcots or Steve Beuerlein being promoted that quickly or into a role with that much prominence.
If CBS moves current talent into the role, look for Boomer Esiason to be the man. Boomer has served as the primary radio analyst for the last 13 Super Bowls on Westwood One and Dial Global. He's also worked five games as a studio analyst and called Super Bowl XXXIV with Al Michaels on ABC. He's edgy and experienced but also not a dinosaur, and I can't figure out why CBS hasn't been using him as a more prominent member of their television arsenal in recent years.
Outside of the network, three names that stand out are NFL Network's Mike Mayock as well Brian Billick and Daryl Johnston of Fox. Mayock probably gets better reviews than any other analyst doing live NFL games today. If a Super Bowl job opened up at CBS would he think about leaving his Thursday night and Notre Dame NBC duties? One would think he certainly would consider it. Mayock is widely regarded as one of the best game analysts in the sport and can capably fill a top slot. Billick is considered to be an up-and-coming star (in spite of his troubles in Atlanta) after he and Thom Brennaman were promoted to do a playoff game this January. It's extremely rare to see analysts jump networks and doubtful that CBS poaches Billick from Fox, but Moose could be a candidate to jump ship.
Could a current player do what Simms did and step into a top broadcast booth soon after retirement? If there's one player who has the name recognition, network favorability, and potential as an analyst to call a Super Bowl in three years it would be Peyton Manning. Manning would be perfect for CBS since he's played in the AFC his entire career and fits the prototype for what a network looks for in a top analyst, specifically a famous former quarterback. He's already shown a knack for television on many platforms and could even slide into a three man booth with Nantz and Simms to break him in to the business.
My money's on Simms joining Jim Nantz again in three years' time, but I'd much rather see any of these individuals working the big game, with Esiason and Mayock leading the wish list.
I cant take Brian Billick seriously until he starts getting the names of players right. For 2 years now, he has called the Vikings star defensive player Jared Allen 'Gerald Allen'
Oh, please. Simms was off his game, but I'll take Phil any day over Troy "heckuva" Aikman at Fox. Can't wait for his inane analysis during the Super Snow Bowl.....
Phil Simms talks endlessly!! Every play gone wrong is another opportunity for him to let the listeners know what he would have done, implying somehow he knows more than the coaches and players on the field. The man never stops talking. A rare occurrence (blackout) during the Superbowl delivered a gift to all viewers who tuned in to watch the game.......SILENCE. It was wonderful. Please hire someone like Boomer to do the Superbowl. The man is a rare breed. He knows his football and he doesn't play the kiss ass game that commentators are known for. He'd be a breath of fresh air.
Overall I would like to see more ex-coaches on this list to join with Billick who is a breath of fresh air.. John Madden was the greatest of all time and lately the trend has been towards to recently retired players.
I love Mayock. I watch ND games despite not being a ND fan because he teaches the viewer alot about the game and isn't arrogant about it. Simms is ok to me, it seems like their isn't much up and coming talent.
Thanks for mentioning Billick. He does a great job (aside from the brain fart in Atlanta) and is very underrated. Wish he was a number one guy somewhere so we can hear more from him.