Ranking the 10 best NFL announcers and color analysts

Tony Romo
Tony Romo has quickly become one of the most popular NFL commentators. Photo from CNN.

In the NFL, all of the attention of fans is usually on the field, and for good reason, but what about the NFL commentators?

In a way, the broadcasters providing the play-by-play and the color analysis during games are just as much a part of the experience of watching as a game as the players on the field. After all, most fans know what it’s like to feel disappointed when the NFL announcers for a game you’re watching make a mistake or say something foolish. Plus, there are some NFL commentators that fans just don’t like.

Ranking the best NFL commentators

Of course, the bad ones always help us feel grateful for the best NFL announcers. Needless to say, some NFL commentators are better than others.

That’s why the TV networks do their best to put the best announcing pairs on the best games that the most people are going to see. Granted, everyone has their personal favorites based on a variety of factors. But we wanted to be as objective as possible with NFL commentators and put together a ranking of the best NFL announcers in the league right now.

10. Steve Levy, Brien Griese, and Louis Riddick

It’s taken ESPN a little bit of time to get their Monday Night Football booth sorted out, but this one does a solid job.

Levy is experienced enough as a broadcaster that he does a solid job in any setting while Griese and Riddick both played enough in the NFL to know what they’re talking about. The trio isn’t quite must-see TV, but they do a good job.

9. Kenny Albert and Jonathan Vilma

As the son of broadcasting royalty, it’s clear that Albert knows what he’s doing in the booth. He may not have achieved the same level of stature as a broadcaster as his father Marv, Kenny is still far better than average.

He’s one of the few broadcasters who can do all four major American sports, so he brings a quiet consistency to his NFL broadcasts. Meanwhile, Vilma is a little green in the broadcast booth and had the tough task of replacing Ronde Barber. But Vilma has held his own so far and his experience as a player is paying off.


8. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman

Technically, this is the best team of NFL commentators for Fox games, but it doesn’t always seem that way.

There are a lot of fans that don’t appreciate Buck’s style. Not all of the criticism he receives is deserved because he usually does a good job and doesn’t try to take the spotlight away from the game.

But this is still far from one of the best tandems because Buck isn’t always well-liked while Aikman can be dry at times despite being an intelligent color analyst.

7. Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen

Rather quietly, this has become one of the more enjoyable broadcasting pairs in the league. Olsen only started broadcasting full-time in 2021 right after retiring and seems like a natural fit. He also knows the league inside and out, which always helps.

Meanwhile, Burkhardt feels like a rising star in the broadcasting world. He’s not as experienced as many of the other NFL commentators on our list, but he seems unflappable on the air. Together, Burkhardt and Olsen bring some youthful exuberance to the booth during NFL games, which isn’t always something we get with so many other veteran NFL announcers still dominating the league.

6. Peyton Manning and Eli Manning

The Manning brothers are surely the most surprising duo on our list of the best NFL commentators. In a way, it shouldn’t be that surprising, as they are two of the most successful quarterbacks in league history, so they should know the game well.

They’ve turned the alternative Monday Night Football broadcast on ESPN into the better broadcast. It’s a little more laid back and informal, which can have its advantages. The brothers can just watch and react just like fans who happened to have played the game at a high level. There’s just something inherently appealing about that.

5. Gus Johnson and Aqib Talib

Anytime that Johnson broadcasts a game, it’s a treat.

The guy brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the role that no other NFL announcers on our list can match. In fairness, Johnson doing NCAA Tournament games is the pinnacle of sports broadcasting, but he does a fine job during NFL games on Fox as well.

The only problem is that he’s busy doing so many other things that he’s not always available for NFL games. But that just means it’s even more special when he’s on the call during a Sunday afternoon game.

As for Talib, he’s new to the broadcasting game, but surely has a wealth of knowledge from his playing days. Plus, as a recent player, he knows the players in the league as well as anyone and has been a good partner for Johnson.

4. Ian Eagle and Charles Davis

Play-by-play broadcasters don’t get much better than Eagle. He might not stand out as one of the best, but he’s just consistent and reliable.

Eagle is a veteran of multiple sports, so he knows what he’s doing in any situation.

That’s why CBS often trusts him to broadcast playoff games as the no. 2 team on the network. Of course, the same things you can say about Eagle also apply to Davis as a color analyst. Despite not playing in the NFL, he’s one of the best and most knowledgeable broadcasts the NFL has.

Read more: Greatest NFL referees of all-time

3. Kevin Harlan and Trent Green

Harlan might be one of the most underrated NFL commentators we’ve ever seen. He’s accustomed to broadcasting other sports and doing games on the radio, although he adjusts well when he’s doing NFL games on TV.

His reaction to important plays is always honest and excited, so there’s no sense that he’s faking it or trying too hard. His off-the-cuff description of a streaker on the field during the radio broadcast of Super Bowl LV is something to behold.

Harlan also has a good partnership going with Green, who doesn’t get enough credit for being a smart analyst. Even if they don’t always get to broadcast the biggest games, fans rarely have a bad word to say about this pair.

2. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth

It seems like Michaels has been a broadcaster forever, which is almost true.

In reality, he’s been in the game for over 40 years, covering a variety of sporting events, including the famous Miracle on Ice.

That also includes 20 years on Monday Night Football before moving to NBC’s Sunday Night Football game in 2006.

Even at this stage in his career, he’s still got it. Michaels remains sharp and as competent as any broadcaster. As for Collinsworth, he has his off moments when he can be foolish. But for the most part, he’s an intelligent broadcaster who doesn’t try too hard or go over the top. He just sticks to the game and provides an astute analysis of the game.

1. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo

There should be no doubt that Nantz and Romo and the best NFL commentators in the game right now.

Ever since he started as a color analyst, Romo has been beloved by fans. He’s not the least bit buttoned up or uptight like a seasoned professional.

He also doesn’t use crazy hyperbole or feel the need to entertain the folks at home. Instead, Romo just comes across as a fan who’s watching the game like everyone else.

The only difference is that Romo understands every little detail of the game and can practically predict what’s going to happen just based on the pre-snap formation. It’s an uncanny skill that’s great to watch. 

Meanwhile, Nantz is the perfect complement for the former quarterback because he is the definition of professional. He knows when to let Romo go and when to reign him in. Keep in mind that Nantz also does The Masters, the Final Four, and other marquee events that air on CBS, so there’s no question that he’s one of the best in the business.

Follow us on social media

About Bryan Zarpentine 148 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

1 Comment

  1. Eli looks like a slow kid with a hearing aid in that photo… I think it captures his essence quite well.

Leave a Reply