NFL’s Thursday package of games goes to CBS


The NFL and CBS have a Thursday night deal. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)

CBS has landed the slate of Thursday night games that the NFL put up for bidding recently.

Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call eight early-season games for CBS, with the games also being broadcast on the NFL Network. Hosts from the league’s network will work pregame, halftime and postgame shows along with CBS Sports announcers, the NFL and CBS said in a joint announcement. The NFL Network will carry eight late-season games exclusively, with CBS producing those games. Two of those late-season games will be a Saturday doubleheader on Week 16, with one game in the late afternoon and the other in prime time.

The agreement is for the 2014 season, with the NFL holding an option for an additional year. Terms of the deal were not announced, but CBS outbid ABC, Fox, Turner and NBC. Initial bids, according to Sports Business Journal, were in the high $200-million range for the year.

NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” Commissioner Goodell said in a statement. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for Thursday Night Football on CBS.”

The Thursday night games began on the NFL Network in 2006, when there were eight games. That was expanded to 14 last season. A slate on CBS isn’t popular with fans, who aren’t terribly fond of Nantz and Simms. Just look at Twitter on any given gameday…or any other day.

Nor were players thrilled with the idea of playing on four days’ rest in an age of increasing concern about making the game as safe as possible.

“People don’t know this; after the game, it’s normally Friday and Saturday when your body starts feeling better,” Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Ryan Pickett told MMQB.com’s Robert Klemko in December. “I’ve been around for 13 years, so it takes a little longer to recover.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren | February 5