Please join us as XFLBoard correspondents Mike Mitchell, Greg Parks and Jackson Conner review broadcasters they would like to see reporting on the league.
When it comes to the broadcasting side of things, the XFL doesn’t have to dig for the diamonds in the rough or settle for the best of what’s left out there. In the past, secondary leagues have been a training ground for up and coming broadcasters who are looking to build up their resume and get a break. Secondary leagues have also been a home for the veteran broadcaster who is looking to get an extra paycheck. You want to avoid the latter like the plague.
With Fox, ABC, and ESPN as it’s broadcast partners. The wealth of broadcast talent in those networks is huge. With no college football or NFL transpiring during February till late April, anyone who is anyone in the football broadcasting world could be on the table and certainly available. That doesn’t mean the XFL can’t be an opportunity for young broadcasters to break out in their profession, but the XFL shouldn’t be in a position of settling for whomever they can get. The networks need to put broadcasters in place who are fully invested in the product.
Brian Baldinger – Mike Mitchell
This is precisely the type of broadcaster that should be working for the XFL. Back in 2007 when NFL Europe ceased operations, no one was more heartbroken or crestfallen than Brian Baldinger. He wrote a beautiful article twelve years ago on NFL.com about NFL Europe and what it meant to him and the football world. It read like a eulogy. Baldinger is someone who was fully invested and married to the concept of a second pro football league, and that’s what the XFL needs. Someone who is committed and believes in this concept. The last thing you want is someone doing the job to pad their resume, or just collect another paycheck. Not only is Brian Baldinger extremely knowledgeable, but he is passionate. Very few can break down players and game film as he can. The XFL needs someone who will treat the league, it’s players, coaches and the games seriously.
Charles Davis – Mike Mitchell
Five tool players. You will see that term thrown around a lot in baseball, and that’s exactly the type of broadcaster Charles Davis is. A former college football player who went undrafted, Davis knows the plight and journey of prospective pro football players. Davis knows the college and pro game. He’s also a good studio host and a good in the game broadcaster. Charles Davis is also very likable. Guys who are as knowledgeable as him usually come off as arrogant. Somehow, Davis shies away from possessing that type of quality. In a league like the XFL, where there will be a lot of former college football players that just missed the cut in the NFL, you want someone who knows of them and has scouted and followed their careers. Despite being a high profile part of Fox’s #2 NFL team with Kevin Burkhardt. Davis continues to work what would be considered the lower profile games like this past years NFL PA Collegiate Bowl for FS1, a game in which current XFL VP of Football Operations Doug Whaley compiled the rosters for the last two years. Davis is a top-flight talent in the industry and checks off all the boxes that you want in a sportscaster. If the XFL is trying to check off all the boxes of what a pro football league needs to look and feel like, this would a perfect marriage.
Gus Johnson – Greg Parks
To me, this is an easy call as far as someone I want calling XFL games. Johnson is a part of the FOX College Football broadcast team along with Joel Klatt, so he’d be available to call FOX XFL games. He brings the necessary excitement to contests and rises to big-time moments. The XFL is going to be a fast-paced game, and that works to Johnson’s strengths as a broadcaster. You want someone to reach out to the viewers and grab them, pulling them into the gameplay as fans familiarize themselves with players and teams throughout the first rebooted season. He may be a bit polarizing to some, but if the announcers seem excited, that will rub off on the viewers.
Rex Ryan – Greg Parks
Ryan has the credibility from years as an NFL coach to provide strong analysis to games. He’s been on ESPN’s NFL Countdown pre-game show for the last few years but has done a game or two in the booth. Ryan has a big personality, and while the XFL isn’t focusing on that as much as it did during the2001 incarnation, it’s still worth having a voice that isn’t a rehash of what you’d hear on NFL or college broadcasts. Just like some announcers’ voices are tied to certain leagues, ideally, you’d be able to identify some broadcasters with the XFL. Ryan could be that guy, even while he keeps his NFL Countdown gig.
Pat McAfee – Jackson Conner
As Mike mentioned earlier, the XFL is a place for up & coming broadcasters and I could think of no one better than McAfee. McAfee recently was announced to broadcast Thursday night college games for ESPN and this would be another logical step for his journey through the broadcasting world. While us XFL super fans will be locked into the games, the casual fans might need some extra flair to spice up some games from time to time. Pat McAfee is a guy that brings flair to the broadcast booth by adding comedy to his analysis and reimagining the way special teams is broadcasted. I tuned into the Baylor vs Texas Tech game last year to just listen to his broadcasting alone and I can almost guarantee that others would do the same if he was the ESPN announcer for the XFL. This is also one of my more likely scenarios as McAfee has been linked to the XFL on several occasions. Back in January of 2018, McAfee tweeted out how he wanted to be an owner of an XFL franchise. While this was meant as a joke and isn’t technically possible, it shows McAfee’s general interest in being involved with the XFL. Back in March, on a Wrestling Inc. podcast, McAfee has a few interesting quotes regarding the XFL and the AAF. McAfee told them “The AAF offered me a commentating spot for their league and it was literally the day after I signed my deal with the WWE… I said no because I knew that the XFL would be launching in a year from now. So I didn’t want to help launch a new league that would be in competition with the XFL.” When asked about being apart of the XFL McAfee said “If I’m a part of it, I have no idea. Obviously, if I’m with the Monday Night Football booth, which is a long shot, but if I’m there I’m not sure I could. I’ll be a fan of the XFL and if they want me to do something, then I’d love to…not to play. I’m not gonna play. I’m done with that but everything else is fair game.” McAfee, unfortunately, did not get a MNF gig but this does leave the door open for the XFL which McAfee labeled “fair game.”
Peyton Manning – Jackson Conner
While Peyton’s playing career is over, his broadcasting career is just getting underway. Manning was an all-time great QB and while that doesn’t guarantee you to be a good analyst, it has certainly helped in Peyton’s case. Manning’s hit ESPN+ show “Detail” has been very popular and has spurred some discussions about him possibly being the next Tony Romo in the broadcasting world. According to Yahoo.com, Manning was offered a spot on Monday Night Football but turned it down for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons included the fact that both the Giants & the Broncos were scheduled to play on MNF that year and Manning didn’t want to analyze games with his brother or former teammates. As of right now, Eli is not in the XFL and very few, if any, of Manning’s teammates, will play in this league. This offers Manning a great starting point to eventually move onto the NFL when it is further from his playing era. While Manning does not have any official connection to the XFL, this is a fairly logical possibility and the thought of him and Pat McAfee in a booth together makes me, and probably a lot of others, very excited.
Matthew Berry/Field Yates – Jackson Conner
This is a little bit of a bonus one as it kind of relates to my fantasy article from last week and is also a non-broadcaster. I talked extensively about XFL fantasy in my last article
but I think fantasy XFL could really take off if there was a face to it. Matthew Berry, Field Yates, or possibly both of them could be the face of fantasy XFL. Even just tweeting XFL fantasy content to the over a million combined followers they have would be a lot but podcasts and maybe a portion of the halftime show on ESPN broadcasts would be huge. Seeing these guys commit to fantasy XFL would cause a lot of people to be very interested and inspired to maybe try it out, therefore leading to more interest in the league. In terms of which one, I do not know. Berry has the bigger platform and following but Yates has tweeted out about the Landry Jones news showing a possible interest. It doesn’t even have to be one of those two either, it could be a lesser-known ESPN fantasy analyst or it could just be all of them together. All I know is that having a person or group like this spearheading the XFL fantasy scene would be huge.