I don't typically like former NFL players on my television. Typically, they're loud, obnoxious and underprepared. Also, I'm opposed to how the hierarchy works in the sports analyst business. Big names get the biggest jobs, regardless of how much they know, how hard they work and how well-spoken they are.
Here, however, are five analysts I feel I gain knowledge and insight from. These five guys deserve promotions:
Eric Allen, ESPN: Nothing I like more than an analyst who does his homework. With Allen, it shows. He seems to know every team inside and out, and he generally avoids going cookie-cutter routes. He's been at ESPN over a decade now but hasn't really climbed the ladder. I wonder if that has to do with the fact he isn't a huge name. I'd take Allen over Keyshawn Johnson at ESPN, or anyone on the NFL Today set.
Brian Billick, NFL Network: I really believe it's only a matter of time before Billick becomes an A-team play-by-play color man. He does a tremendous job dishing from an insider's perspective on Fox broadcasts and on NFL Network's Playbook program. I find coaches make much better analysts than former players, which I suppose shouldn't be surprising.
Bill Polian, ESPN: Or former general managers. Polian is a football encyclopedia, and he tells it like it is.
Damien Woody, ESPN: He isn't overly entertaining, but I'm tuning in for information and insight, not for bells and whistles. Sometimes it's frustrating when analysts relate every scenario to their playing careers, but Woody seems to do it in a refreshing context. He isn't bombastic and there's no ego. He's also good at putting things into context for your average viewer.
Steve Tasker, CBS: I can't pinpoint what exactly it is I like about Tasker, but since most analysts phone it in and have become unwatchable, Tasker makes the list merely for the fact I don't feel the need to change the channel every time he's on the air. Wouldn't mind seeing him on a studio show, rather than louder analysts like Warren Sapp and Deion Sanders, who add nothing more than noise.
As a Steelers fan who couldn't stand Billick as a coach, if for no other reason than the Ravens rivalry itself, I love him as a color man. No ridiculous shtick like Gruden or Simms. Not cliche after cliche. Just insightful level-headed analysis. Seems to understand the game is the show, not him.
Billick is a great analyst. While he isn't always right on names, he does know his "X's and O's," far better than just about any other color-commentator. Easily beats Phil Simms.
I'm surprised Brian Billick wasn't snatched up by Fox. Seems like he would be perfect for some sort of show on there.
@stuie299 Billick is a game analyst for Fox, and he does studio analysis for NFL Network. He is usually teamed with Thom Brennaman.