In a story that’s breaking just this evening, the NFL Network has announced that Bryant Gumbel has given up his duties to call late season Thursday and Saturday games.
When the NFL Network named Gumbel to be play-by-play man, many media critics scratched their heads as he had never called games before. And his inexperience showed in the 2006 season and while he did show some improvement in the 2007 season, it did not slow the criticism.
Newsday’s Neil Best says the move is not a surprise. Justin Terranova at the New York Post has a bit in his blog. The Sports Media Watch says Tom Hammond of NBC Sports who calls Notre Dame football and has called NFL games in the past for the Peacock network is a possible replacement. Tom Hoffarth of the LA Daily News says no matter which side made the decision, it’s a very good one. Tom Jones of the St. Petersburg gives his Two Cents on the move in his blog.
From this small sampling, you can tell that the move is being greeted rather warmly. While the NFL Network wanted to make a splash by hiring Gumbel, it brought more criticism than praise. Last season, Tom Hammond worked one game for the NFL Network while Gumbel was “out sick”. Perhaps it was an audition and Tom’s previous experience calling the NFL for NBC will probably make him the leading candidate to work with his old partner, Cris Collinsworth on Thursday and Saturday Night Football.