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NFL Network Thursday Night Football: A Serious Upgrade in Their Coverage

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Week Ten in the Oakland Raiders ninth game of the season they will be playing Thursday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers on the NFL Network (lockout permitting). And I have some tremendous news for all of us. That Thursday night game, and all others, will no longer be color commentated on by Joe Theisman and Matt Millen. Bob Papa (who is oddly not related to the long-time voice of the Raiders Greg Papa) will no longer be doing the play-by-play. They are all gone!

In their place will be Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock. Nessler has been calling college football and basketball games on ESPN. He is also the voice of EA Sports NCAA Football. Mayock as you probably know has become an NFL Network fixture and is their resident draft guru. I am sure they will make a solid tandem and do a fine job. Jump over and bash Theisman and Millen with me....

One thing is for certain they have small shoes to fill. Watching a Joe Theisman broadcast was like listening to three hours of advertisements for the long-term health risks of head trauma. I don't know that he had many concussions in his career, but maybe he kept his brain in his knee. He was also way too arrogant to make his bruised brain ramblings tolerable. Although, I will forever get a kick out of the memory of him referring to someone as a "Norman" Einstein.

As for Millen, I don't know what to say. Before he ruined the Lions he was regarded as one of the best commentators in the business. This was either a bunch of non-sense or he Millen forgot how to talk about football while he had a job running a football team. Millen is to be awed though as he did the impossible: After leaving the Lions he actually did a worse job at his new job. Listening to Theisman and Millen together was a three hour aural assault.

I had seen rumors Gus Johnson—who just parted ways with CBS—was up for this role, but the NFL Net went with Nessler, because they thought he'd have better chemistry with Mayock. They are probably right. I can't think of watching a football game Gus Johnson called. I do know that I will miss Gus Johnson on CBS during March Madness. When I watch March Madness highlights in my head I hear Johnson's voice.