No one was more concerned about the NFL Network's idea to use a four-person booth to call the Eagles' London matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars than Rich Eisen, who was aware cramming that many voices into a single broadcast could come across as a gimmick.
"I couldn't even imagine how it would work," Eisen told the Inquirer and Daily News last week.
Considering the broadcast featured three analysts (Michael Irvin, Kurt Warner, and Steve Mariucci) and two sideline reporters (Melissa Stark and Peter Schrager) and a rules analyst (Dean Blandino), the call of the game was surprisingly solid. Not only did the analysts avoid talking over one another, there were several key moments where the broadcast remained silent and allowed the sounds from Wembley Stadium to tell the story.
The broadcast wasn't mistake-free. Eisen struggled early on pronouncing Corey Clement's name, and after a fourth quarter run, Eisen mistakenly referred to rookie running back Josh Adams as Jamal (he quickly realized the error and corrected himself). On a lighter note, Eisen mistakingly said a fan at Wembley Stadium was dressed as Batman's arch-nemesis, the Joker, when the green suit jacket covered in question marks clearly belonged to the Riddler.
"The last thing I prepared to correct myself on was identifying the wrong Batman villain. I apologize to all Frank Gorshin fans," Eisen said following the snafu.
The idea to experiment with such a crowded booth was cooked up back in July by Mike Muriano, the NFL Network's vice president and executive producer of studio. Muriano said earlier this week that if things went well, we could hear Eisen and his NFL GameDay Morning colleagues calling future NFL Network games.
"Nothing could be ruled out if it goes well, and we all think it is going to go well. There have been no serious talks beyond that," Muriano said in a conference call with reporters last week. "Our focus is completely on this game, but it's not implausible if we come away feeling good about this, and more importantly, perhaps the audience feels good, that it could be something fun to do."
The announcers did have some local critics, including 94.1 WIP host Glenn Macnow, who called the broadcast "amateur hour."
Macnow's WIP colleague Brian Haddad was more willing to offer praise about the broadcast, but it appears his support was for selfish reasons.