The NFL Today
- The NFL Today is also the name of the radio show that corresponds with the television show.
|The NFL Today|
Logo used from 2006 until 2013
|Created by||CBS Sports|
Jason La Canfora
|Opening theme||See NFL on CBS music|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Location(s)||CBS Broadcast Center, New York City|
|Running time||45 min|
|Original channel||CBS (1961–1993; 1998–)|
|Picture format||480i widescreen (SDTV) (2013-),
|Original run||Pro Football Kickoff
September 17, 1961
The NFL Report/Today
September 13, 1964 – January 13, 1974
The NFL on CBS
September 15, 1974 – December 29, 1974
The NFL Today
September 21, 1975 – January 23, 1994; September 6, 1998 – present
The NFL Today is an American sports series that precedes the American football program The NFL on CBS on CBS Sports. The program takes place before all CBS NFL broadcasts, and is generally one hour, except on Thanksgiving and during the postseason. The hosts and studio analysts on the program comment on the latest NFL events and make their game predictions. The show airs from CBS studio 43 in New York, unless there is only one game on CBS for the day, in which case it airs from the game site. This is the case on Thursdays, formerly Saturdays, Conference Championships, and the Super Bowl.
The primary hosts are longtime sportscaster James Brown and former NFL head coach Bill Cowher. They are joined on Thursdays by former NFL cornerback Deion Sanders and on Sundays by former tight end Tony Gonzalez, former linebacker Bart Scott, and former quarterback Boomer Esiason.
As of 2014, the primary presenting sponsor is Lowe's on Thursdays and Southwest Airlines on Sundays. However, for both days, the final segment is known as First on the Field and is sponsored by Microsoft.
- 1 Broadcast history
- 1.1 Dawn of the pregame format (1961–1974)
- 1.2 Musburger and Cross (1975–1989)
- 1.3 Gumbel and Bradshaw (1990–1993)
- 1.4 CBS reacquires rights (1998–present)
- 2 The Super Bowl Today
- 3 Table of studio hosts and analysts
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Dawn of the pregame format (1961–1974)
On September 17, 1961, CBS Sports broadcast the first remote 15-minute pre-game show, the first of its kind on network sports television. Pro Football Kickoff (with host Johnny Lujack) originated from NFL stadiums around the country with a comprehensive look at all the day's games. This show was succeeded in 1962 and 1963 by NFL Kickoff (with Kyle Rote hosting).
During the 1964 season, Frank Gifford began hosting NFL Report, which later that season would be retitled The NFL Today. This version of The NFL Today was a 15-minute, regional sports program that presented interviews with National Football League players and coaches, and news and features about the NFL. In 1967, The NFL Today expanded to a 30-minute format preceding game coverage.
On September 20, 1970, The NFL Today signed industry-pioneering women: Marjorie Margolies, who produced and reported features and actress Carole Howey, who also reported. Margolies would win election to the U.S. House from Pennsylvania in 1992 as Marjorie Margolies-Mezsvinsky.
In 1973, The NFL Today began originating from CBS' New York studios. It now included reports from stadiums around the country. The program continued to be pre-recorded in advance of game day each week.
In 1974, CBS abandoned the pre-recorded NFL Today show and its quickie wrap-up show, Pro Football Report, for a live, wrap-around style show entitled The NFL on CBS. It would start one-half hour before kickoff of either the singleheader or doubleheader telecast (12:30, 1:30 or 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time). On September 15, 1974, the revamped program debuted with a new three-segment format: highlights of the day's games and commentary, special features shot during the week, and a third segment covering the day's sports news, including scores and highlights at halftime. The hosts were Jack Whitaker (brought into the studio after quite a few years at play-by-play) and Lee Leonard. The show broke ground in a number of ways: Being live, showing half-time highlights of other CBS games, and then wrapping up as a post-game show. CBS no longer called its stadium studios or its pre-game set CBS Control, but the CBS Sports Center. There would also no longer be a third member of an on-air crew stationed at CBS Control providing scores, halftime info and - time permitting - post-game interviews, a position often held by Dick Stockton during his early days at the network.
Musburger and Cross (1975–1989)
The NFL Today title was reinstated in 1975, a year in which it won 13 Emmy Awards, with former WBBM-TV and KNXT sportscaster/anchorman Brent Musburger (previously a play-by-play announcer for CBS) serving as host, former NFL player Irv Cross as analyst, and former Miss America Phyllis George as one of the reporters. Sports bookie Jimmy Snyder, nicknamed The Greek, joined in 1976. Jack Whitaker also contributed to the program as an occasional reporter and essayist during this period.
By this time, the show began the complex process of producing three separate live pregame, halftime and postgame programs for 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. games. Also for the first time, signature musical pieces are produced for NFL coverage. The show's signature theme was "Horizontal Hold," a piece by Jack Trombey.
Phyllis George was replaced by former Miss Ohio USA Jayne Kennedy for the 1978 and 1979 seasons, and left the program after the 1983 season. It should also be noted that during the 1983 season, Phyllis George went on maternity leave from The NFL Today. She was replaced by Charlsie Cantey midway into the season. Jimmy Snyder was dismissed by CBS Sports at the end of the 1987 season, one day after making comments about racial differences among NFL players on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1988.
Gumbel and Bradshaw (1990–1993)
After the 1989 NFL season, Musburger was abruptly fired following a power shift at CBS on April 1, 1990, while Cross was demoted to the position of game analyst. They were replaced by former ESPN football analyst and WFAN morning host (and brother to Bryant Gumbel) Greg Gumbel, famous former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and longtime sportswriter Lesley Visser, bringing a female reporter back to The NFL Today for the first time since Phyllis George went on maternity leave during the 1983 season.
After the 1993 season, CBS Sports' contract with the NFL to transmit NFC games ended, and the NFC rights were passed to Fox Sports. The NFL Today had a four-year break along with The NFL on CBS from the 1994 to the 1997 NFL seasons. Gumbel went over to NBC Sports, Bradshaw to Fox NFL Sunday and Visser to Monday Night Football on ABC. Gumbel and Visser would eventually return to CBS.
CBS reacquires rights (1998–present)
In November 2004, the NFL signed 6-year contracts with CBS Sports ($622.5 million per year) and Fox ($712.5 million per year) to continue broadcasting their respective AFC and NFC games from the 2006 to the 2011 seasons.
The show includes segments like Chalk Talk, in which commentators and program guests discuss team strategies, and Outside the Huddle with computer-animated PUNT TV pregame host Thurston Long, who makes fun of people around the NFL. He is electronically rendered by animators of Scripted Improv Media, Synergistix Media, and of Viacom (VIA), the publicly traded company that owns CBS itself, and with the help of animators and animation software of face2face, a joint venture of Lucent Technologies and other investors. On June 15, 2005, Viacom announced the spin-off its CBS division, which marked the end of Outside the Huddle.
At the start of that same 2003 regular season, CBS Sports introduced the new theme song Posthumus Zone for The NFL Today and for The NFL on CBS. The song was made by Los Angeles electronica group E.S. Posthumus, which is so named because it composes songs that have dead ancient cities as a motif. In 2006, E.S. Posthumus released their second CD, Rise to Glory, with the Posthumus Zone on it and with a remix of the Posthumus Zone called Rise to Glory. The song Rise to Glory was also featured on The NFL Today and on The NFL on CBS during the 2005 NFL season.
Nowadays, the program usually runs on Sunday at noon, Eastern Time, and lasts one hour. The outdoor studio, which was used during the fall, was set up on Sunday mornings at a plaza in the area that would later become the reflecting glass structure of the Apple Store in the General Motors Building, at 767 5th Avenue and 59th Street (see the  at Google Maps), next to the southeast corner of Central Park. The winter studio is Studio 43 of the CBS Broadcast Center. However, starting in 2005, The NFL Today was broadcast from Studio 43 all year round. The current studio set for The NFL Today debuted the following season (2006), the same year the show began broadcasting in HD.
Under Jim Nantz (1998–2003)
Greg Gumbel came back from NBC Sports to work as the lead play-by-play announcer for The NFL on CBS. Jim Nantz became the studio host. Incidentally, during the 1993 season, Jim Nantz filled-in for his predecessor, Greg Gumbel while Gumbel was away covering the American League Championship Series for CBS.
During the 1998 NFL season, when the show returned, newcomer Bonnie Bernstein joined the both the show and the network. She only appeared on the show for one season until moving on to the NFL sidelines for the 1999 season. She would eventually returned to the show in 2004 and 2005.
In the meantime there have been eleven studio analysts on the program. The original lineup consisted of Nantz, Marcus Allen, Brent Jones, and George Seifert and did not last past that season. In fact, only Nantz returned to the pregame the next season, being joined by former CBS College Football Today studio analyst Craig James, former CBS and NBC color commentator Randy Cross and former Fox analyst Jerry Glanville.
During the 2000 NFL season, Lesley Visser returned to CBS Sports/The NFL Today after a 6-year hiatus. Visser served as a feature reporter on the show. Visser briefly left the show in 2004 and 2005 as she left to work as the lead reporter for top NFL games. She returned to the show in 2006 and she continues that role today.
The pregame was rebooted again after the 2001 season with Dan Marino and Boomer Esiason joining Nantz, 2000 addition Mike Ditka and 2001 addition Deion Sanders. Sanders left the broadcast team after Super Bowl XXXVIII to return to the NFL, playing 2004 with the Baltimore Ravens. Nantz would follow shortly thereafter, being promoted to lead play-by-play broadcaster.
Under Greg Gumbel (the second time, 2004–2005)
With Nantz moving to the lead broadcast team alongside Phil Simms, Gumbel returned to the studio to replace him. To replace the departed Sanders, Shannon Sharpe joined the team. Sharpe's critics said that his broadcasting skills were hurt by his poor grammar and enunciation of words (Sharpe has a very noticeable lisp and drawl). A satirical article on The Onion joked "CBS Producers Ask Shannon Sharpe To Use At Least 3 Real Words Per Sentence." 
During the 2004 NFL season, Bonnie Bernstein took over Lesley Visser's spot on the show while taking over Armen Keteyian's spot as the lead sideline reporter for the NFL on CBS teaming up with Nantz and Simms while Keteyian takes over Bernstein's spot on the No. 2 announce team. Those three held their positions for two seasons. This was Bernstein's return to The NFL Today after five seasons on the sidelines while Visser returned to the sidelines after a brief hiatus of four years.
Under James Brown (2006–present)
On February 6, 2006, CBS Sports announced the hiring of James Brown, who moved from studio host of Fox NFL Sunday to the host of the The NFL Today. Greg Gumbel moved back to play-by-play, teaming with Dan Dierdorf on the second team replacing Dick Enberg.
As previously mentioned during the 2006 NFL season, Lesley Visser returned to The NFL Today after a two-year hiatus. Visser once again served as Feature Reporter. She continues to hold that position today. Bonnie Bernstein left the network to pursue other broadcasting opportunities. Aside from Visser returning to the show, Sam Ryan joined CBS Sports/The NFL Today as she joined the network in June 2006. Ryan left the network after the 2010 NFL season.
In 2012, following the murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher of his girlfriend, Brown digressed on the show about the role men needed to take in the fight against domestic violence. He accused the league's players of letting the NFL's reputation for domestic violence go unchanged.
Beginning with the 2013 season, The NFL Today, along with all of the other CBS Sports presentations, switched to a 16:9 letterbox presentation, therefore using a down-scaled version of the network's native HD feed (matching that of Fox Sports).
On February 18, 2014, it was announced that Sharpe and Marino were being relieved of their duties as on-air commentators and were being replaced by recent NFL retirees Tony Gonzalez and Bart Scott.
It was later announced that two different versions of The NFL Today will air in 2014. All broadcasts will feature Brown and Cowher, joined on Sundays by Esiason, Gonzalez and Scott, and on Thursdays by a returning Deion Sanders.
On September 11, 2014, in the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence controversy, Brown spoke via satellite to CBS News anchor Scott Pelley and spoke face to face with CBS News reporter Norah O'Donnell, who had interviewed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell days before. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti also appeared in a taped interview with Brown. Brown then updated his 2012 digression about domestic violence, wondering why in the two years since, nothing had been done to change the problem, and how the problem had actually become worse.
The Super Bowl Today
The Super Bowl Today is a triennial edition of the NFL Today broadcast on Super Bowl Sunday, generally from the site of the game. The Super Bowl Today is only broadcast during years when CBS has rights to televise the Super Bowl.
Table of studio hosts and analysts
- The NFL on television
- NFL on CBS
- Fox NFL Sunday
- The NFL on NBC Pregame Show
- List of programs broadcast by CBS
- "Similar to today's NFL TODAY show, which has a segment during the last 10 minutes of the show called "First to the Field" featuring the current NFL ON CBS broadcast teams commenting on news and players surrounding their respective games, 1964's program originated live and on videotape at the playing fields where the games were being played and from special television studios at each stadium. The show was broadcast regionally to the same area carrying the game that followed". Cbs.sportsline.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "September 9, 1990: THE NFL TODAY kicks off with a new talent lineup of Greg Gumbel, Terry Bradshaw, Pat O'Brien and Lesley Visser. The show also boasts a new state-of-the-art set that includes a 360-degree, two-story, largely mobile set; 174 televisions, separate program islands for various studio segments, neon lights, staircase, 24 motion message panels and two 43-inch television screens". Cbs.sportsline.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "CBS Sports Press Releases - CBSSports.com". Sportsline.com. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "September 2000: THE NFL TODAY studio show moves from the CBS Broadcast Center to a new indoor-outdoor studio located in the GM Building on Fifth Avenue in New York City". Cbs.sportsline.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- 767 5th Ave (1970-01-01). "map". Maps.google.com. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- 524 W 57th St (1970-01-01). "west of Central Park". Maps.google.com. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- ""Use at least three words per sentence" Onion New Network". Onionsportsnetwork.com. 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- Nate Davis (2014-02-18). "CBS hires Tony Gonzalez, parts with two Hall-of-Fame analysts". usatoday.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "January 18, 1976: CBS broadcasts Super Bowl X with a new 90-minute pre-game - SUPER BOWL SUNDAY SPECIAL". Cbs.sportsline.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "January 22, 1984: For the first time, THE SUPER BOWL TODAY devotes two hours to pre-game coverage, with 11 broadcasters, 13 feature and remote producers and four directors". Cbs.sportsline.com. 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- NFL Today - CBS SportsLine.com
- Schedules - CBS SportsLine.com
- The NFL Today weekly transcripts 2004: Wk 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|14|15|16|17|Wild Card
- The NFL Today marks 40th year
- History of Network NFL Pre-Game shows