A few months ago, FOX won the bidding rights for Thursday Night Football, to the tune of $3.3 billion over the course of five years (an average of $660 million per year). CBS and NBC previously split that primetime package in each of the last two seasons, but now they’re out of the equation.
The NFL doesn’t actually mandate that networks use their top broadcast team for TNF, which is why Mike Tirico and not Al Michaels go to call NBC’s games with Cris Collinsworth. When FOX starts its Thursday slate, however, it’ll mean a significant increase in hearing Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
FOX Sports announced on Monday that their #1 commentary duo will handle all 13 games, starting with the NFL Network-exclusive between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. They’ll also call all of the “America’s Game of the Week” doubleheaders, with Buck presumably swapped out during the MLB playoffs. When CBS has the doubleheader, then Buck and Aikman will reportedly get Sunday off.
This means you can definitely pencil Joe and Troy in for two Seattle Seahawks games: Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys as the featured late game on Sunday, as well as Week 11 on Thursday against the Green Bay Packers. Both matchups are at CenturyLink Field.
I previously couldn’t stand Joe Buck. His reputation as a remarkably boring broadcaster was well-earned. I mean, just listen to this play. Or this absurdity in the 2002 NFC Championship Game. Now compare that with the Jermaine Kearse touchdown to send the Seahawks to Super Bowl XLIX. Or Stefon Diggs’ miraculous game-winner against the New Orleans Saints. He’s changed for the better. And if you’re like me and watch the IFC show Brockmire, his faux rivalry with Jim Brockmire is genuinely hilarious.
Troy Aikman? Ehhhh. He’s there. I guess.
This is the full Thursday Night Football on FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime schedule, by the way. The Thanksgiving games are not part of the package, so I’ve excluded them.
Week 2: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (NFLN only)
Week 3: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (NFLN only)
Week 4: Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Rams
Week 5: Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
Week 6: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Week 7: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals
Week 8: Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
Week 9: Oakland Raiders at San Francisco 49ers
Week 10: Carolina Panthers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 11: Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
Week 13: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
Week 14: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs