The NFL is 70% black, so why is its TV coverage so white?


February 1, 2019

Last November, in the lead-up to the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, NBCdecided to switch things up for the primetime telecast. They gave the regular commentary team of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth the holiday off and promoted Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison from the studio to the book.

As roster moves go, this was a major one: NBC’s commentary booth went from all-white to all-black. While Tirico at least had called his share of major events for NBC and ESPN (not least Monday Night Football), neither Dungy nor Harrison could boast much history inside the booth despite the trove of on-field credentials (the two have won two Super Bowls apiece). That Plymouth Rock-sized gap in live-game experience could have been fodder to keep the internet trolls fed for weeks. But aside from Harrison singling out potato salad as his favorite Thanksgiving side dish, NBC’s backup team were barely picked over. Never mind that they had just toppled one of the more stubborn barriers in sports.

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