The NFL Network has hired Brad Nessler as the play-by-play announcer for its Thursday night package, replacing Bob Papa. Nessler will team with analyst Mike Mayock. Joe Theismann, who had been part of a three-man booth last season, will not return.
Nessler will continue to cover college football and college basketball for ESPN.
“I think he is one of the premier play-by-play announcers in all of sports,” said Mark Quenzel, NFL Network senior vice president. “I've always been impressed with his work on multiple sports but certainly on football.”
NEW KENTUCKY DERBY RACE CALLER
Larry Collmus, the track announcer at Gulfstream Park and Monmouth Park, has replaced Tom Durkin as NBC's race caller for the Kentucky Derby.
“Since I started calling races at the age of 18, it's the one thing an announcer dreams about is to be able to call the Kentucky Derby,” Collmus said.
Durkin, 60, said he gave up the role as race caller for Triple Crown events because of anxiety issues.
Bob Costas and Tom Hammond will co-host NBC's coverage, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday.
*WWLS, FM 98.1 and AM 640, had an excellent winter Arbitron ratings book, apparently aided by increased interest in the Thunder. The Sports Animal's 4.6 share for listeners 12 and older was up 24 percent from the same period last year. The station tied for second among Oklahoma City stations in both morning drive and afternoon drive. WWLS also ranked third overall in the 25-54 age demographic.
*Sideline reporter Michele Tafoya has jumped from ESPN to NBC to join the network's “Sunday Night Football” broadcast. She replaces Andrea Kremer.
*ESPN's “E:60” newsmagazine, 6 p.m. Tuesday, goes undercover to examine cockfighting in Texas. Cockfighting is illegal in all 50 states, but because of legal loopholes in Texas, the sport thrives there.
*The Golf Channel will celebrate the life of Frank Chirkinian, recognized as “the father of televised golf,” on the eve of his posthumous induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame with a half- hour special at 7 p.m. Friday.
*TNT analyst Kenny Smith on the second-seeded Los Angeles Lakers apparently headed for elimination, similar to top-seeded San Antonio: “Man. I saw Muhammad Ali go down, now I'm about to see Mike Tyson in his prime (go down). The difference between the Spurs and the Lakers is that the Lakers have about three or four guys that are still in their prime.”