The NFL Today is a TV show that precedes the American football program The NFL on CBS on CBS Sports. The program usually airs at noon (ET) on Sundays of the National Football League regular season. The hosts and studio analysts on the program comment on the latest NFL events and make their game predictions.
The program started in 1975, a year in which it won 13 Emmy Awards, with journalist Brent Musburger and former NFL player Irv Cross, and with former Miss America Phyllis George as one of the reporters. Jimmy Snyder, nicknamed The Greek, joined in 1976. Back then The NFL on CBS showed games of the National Football Conference, which was the result of the old NFL before the merger with the American Football League for the 1970 season. CBS had telecast games of the old NFL since the 1956 season. 1979 was the first year the Sports Emmy Awards were awarded to sportscasts, among them The NFL Today. Phyllis George was replaced by the 1970 Miss Ohio Jayne Kennedy from the 1978 to the 1979 NFL season and left the program after the 1983 season. Jimmy Snyder was dismissed by CBS Sports at the end of the 1987 season, one day after making comments about racial differences among NFL players on Martin Luther King Day in 1988. Musburger and Irv Cross left after the 1989 season, as their contracts with CBS Sports were not renewed. They were replaced by Greg Gumbel, famous former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and longtime sportswriter Lesley Visser, bringing a female reporter back to The NFL Today for the first time since George went on maternity leave during the 1983 season. After the 1993 season, CBS Sports' contract with the NFL to transmit NFC games ended, and the NFC rights were passed to Fox Sports. The NFL Today had a four-year break along with The NFL on CBS from the 1994 to the 1997 NFL seasons. Gumbel went over to NBC Sports, Bradshaw to FOX NFL Sunday and Visser to Monday Night Football on ABC. Gumbel and Visser would eventually return to CBS. In 1998, NBC Sports' AFC contract expired, and CBS Sports took over the rights to telecast its games. Since then, The NFL Today has not caught up with the TV ratings of FOX NFL Sunday, now its same-time competitor. However, it beat Fox in 2005 and with recent additions from Fox, it is favored to win in 2006. (NBC is set to replace ABC as the network for primetime games, with the debut of Sunday Night Football.) Greg Gumbel came back from NBC Sports to work as the lead play-by-play announcer for The NFL on CBS. Jim Nantz became the studio host. In the meantime there have been eleven studio analysts on the program. Perhaps the showiest of them all was Deion Sanders. Sanders caught the viewer's eye with his squeaky trash talk and his frequently used flashy apparel: white sports sneakers, black tuxedo, black gloves and big black hat. His favorite vocative to address interviewees was "my man." Sanders did not get along with Boomer Esiason, who sat to his left, so on Sunday, December 29, 2003, his 2004 New Year resolution was to "love [his] neighbor", but he left to put on the 2004 Baltimore Ravens shirt with his age (37) on its back. At the start of that same 2003 regular season, CBS Sports introduced the new theme song Posthumus Zone for The NFL Today and for The NFL on CBS. The song was made by Los Angeles electronica group E.S. Posthumus, which is called that way because it composes songs that have dead ancient cities as a motif. Studio host Jim Nantz and Deion Sanders had their last NFL Today program before Super Bowl XXXVIII on The Super Bowl Today. Greg Gumbel narrated his last NFL on CBS play, Adam Vinatieri's field goal that broke the tie between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers. In August 2004, CBS Sports director Sean McManus announced that Nantz and Gumbel would switch roles, and hired former John Elway teammate Shannon Sharpe to replace Sanders and comment on The NFL Today with Dan Marino and with Esiason. In November 2004, the NFL signed 6-year contracts with CBS Sports ($622.5 million per year) and Fox ($712.5 million per year) to continue broadcasting their respective AFC and NFC games from the 2006 to the 2011 seasons. Nowadays, the program usually runs on Sunday at noon, Eastern Time, and lasts one hour. The outdoor studio, used during the fall, is set up on Sunday mornings at a plaza in front of the reflecting glass structure of an Apple Computer store in the General Motors Building, at 767 5th Avenue and 59th Street (see the map at Google Maps), next to the southeast corner of Central Park. The winter studio is Studio 43 of the CBS Broadcast Center, west of Central Park. However, starting in 2005, The NFL Today was broadcast from Studio 43 all year round. The show includes segments like the CarQuest Chalk Talk, in which commentators and program guests discuss team strategies, and Outside the Huddle with computer-animated PUNT TV pregame host Thurston Long, who makes fun of people around the NFL. He is electronically rendered by animators of Scripted Improv Media, Synergistix Media, and of Viacom (VIA), the publicly traded company that owns CBS itself, and with the help of animators and animation software of face2face, a joint venture of Lucent Technologies and other investors. The commentators of The NFL Today also comment on The NFL on CBS on game updates, on the Nextel Halftime Report and on the Subway Postgame Show. On June 15, 2005, Viacom announced the spin-off its CBS division, which marked the end of Outside the Huddle. In 2006, E.S. Posthumus released their second CD, Rise to Glory, with the Posthumus Zone on it and with a remix of the Posthumus Zone called Rise to Glory. The song Rise to Glory was also featured on The NFL Today and on The NFL on CBS during the 2005 NFL season.
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