James Brown, a sports reporter at WUSA-TV-9 here, is completing an unusual jump at the network level -- from basketball analyst to football play-by-play.

"CBS management and myself had talked about my desire to broaden my horizons," Brown, 36, said. "The analyst role, I realized was a short-lived exercise. Whenever there would be a superstar {athlete} coming out of the ranks, the network would want him."

So Brown, who has done football play-by-play on Howard University games and for the Black Entertainment Network, is trying to shift his focus to play-by-play and studio work.

"It's just a matter of getting the mechanics down," he said. "Hey, if I can do cycling and Ping-Pong {at the Pan American Games}, well, I know football. I'm apprehensive because it's something new. I've got to develop a thick skin."

Brown is part of a large contingent of NFL announcers this season with D.C.-area ties. CBS has Brown, who went to DeMatha High School in Hyattsville; Tim Brant, an ex-University of Maryland lineman who worked at WMAL Radio and WJLA-TV-7 and lives in Rockville; and ex-Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. NBC will use Home Team Sports' Mel Proctor on a part-time basis. And ESPN's first NFL play-by-play voice, Mike Patrick, is a Vienna, Va., native and resident who graduated from George Washington University and worked at Channel 7, too.