This just in: Kenny Albert, Daryl “Moose” Johnston and Tony Siragusa have been eliminated from playoff contention.
When Fox broadcasts half of its four NFL playoff games next weekend in the form of the divisional playoffs, viewers will see and hear the NFC playoff game scheduled for January 12 a bit differently.
That’s because Fox has given the assignment of that game to their duo of Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick, rather than their usual second-string trio of Albert, Johnston and Siragusa.
There was no detailed explanation given by Fox spokesman Dan Bell; just an assertion that “both broadcast teams had very strong years” and a decision was made to give Brennaman and Billick “the opportunity to call a playoff game this season.”
Incidentally, both Billick and Brennaman have missed one game each during the regular season: In Week 12, a back ailment forced Billick to miss the Falcons/Buccaneers game; Charles Davis worked alongside Brennaman for that one. And in October, Joe Buck snatched away Brennaman’s original sub assignment for the New York Giants/San Francisco 49ers game from Candlestick Park, as the San Francisco Giants ended up hosting a World Series game on the same day.
To give Billick and Brennaman a playoff game, especially after getting Buck-jacked back in Week 6, is a noble gesture on Fox’s part.
By the way, before news of Kenny, Moose and Goose’s apparent playoff demotion made the rounds on Friday, Billick himself actually broke the news of his divisional playoff game assignment Thursday morning during a weekly segment on a Philadelphia sports radio station.
“That is an honor… to get picked for a playoff game,” WIP-FM morning host Angelo Cataldi said.
“I’m thrilled to death,” Billick exclaimed. “Anytime you can… be involved with the playoffs… it’s such an exciting time, as we kind of stay in the tournament and move forward, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
As for the teams in the playoff game that Brennaman and Billick are calling, we can tell you that it will be in San Francisco, as the 49ers have been selling tickets to a game scheduled to start at 5 PM local time – or 8 PM Eastern.
In fact, the 49ers will be in the exact same position they were in last year, hosting a divisional playoff game on the second Saturday in January. However, there was an unfortunate moment during that broadcast, as Siragusa had reported a challenge flag being out – except he omitted a very important consonant in the word “flag”.
With Fox finding themselves in San Francisco once again, expecting to break out their “B” team (with Buck and Troy Aikman calling the Sunday divisional playoff game in Atlanta), did Siragusa’s slip of the tongue factor into Fox’s decision to reassign the 49ers game to another announcing team? Fox wouldn’t say.
While we won’t know the 49ers’ opponent for this year’s second-round game until the Wild Card round is through (they would play the higher seed of the NFC teams that prevail in the first round), we do know – as does Fox – that Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick are indeed ready for prime time.
UPDATE: As it turns out, Brennaman and Billick have been assigned the Sunday early game of Seattle Seahawks/Atlanta Falcons, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman working the Green Bay Packers/San Francisco 49ers game on Saturday night.