Sports broadcasting has few sure things, but one of the annual certainties is networks bringing in a new crop of former NFL players and coaches with hopes of landing the next on-air star. This week, NBC Sports will add to the cause with a number of new hires.
The network has added longtime NFL coach Kevin Gilbride; Jason Taylor, the six-time Pro Bowl defensive end and 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year; 15-year NFL veteran Takeo Spikes; and Brian Westbrook, the two-time Pro Bowl running back for the Eagles who has worked for a couple of different broadcast outlets. All will be regulars on Pro Football Talk, the NBC Sports Network show hosted by Mike Florio which airs at 5:30 p.m. ET every Monday through Friday. That show also has a new co-host alongside Florio: NBC has brought in former NFL Network studio host and anchor Paul Burmeister to replace Erik Kuselias.
Gilbride was part of the NFL for 27 years and was the head coach of the Chargers in 1997 and '98. He is best known for his work as an offensive coordinator, having helped direct the Giants’ Super Bowl-winning teams in 2007 and '11. Among the quarterbacks he worked with during his three-decade coaching tenure: Mark Brunell, Warren Moon and Eli Manning. Gilbride announced his retirement last January amid reports that he was about to lose his position with New York. He will appear Mondays and Fridays on the show.
Gilbride said on Tuesday he is not looking to go back into coaching. As is often the case for NFL television hires, Gilbride found a broadcast agent (Maury Gostfrand), who reached out to sports television executives (in this case NBC’s Dan Steir, Senior Vice President, Production & Senior Coordinating Producer, NBC Sports Group) about employment. They met for lunch a couple of months ago and consummated a deal.
“This is something I wanted to transition into,” Gilbride said on Tuesday. “I didn’t want to get out of football completely. I wanted to come home [he and his wife live in Rhode Island] and stay involved in the game and continue to study and stay abreast of the new developing trends. I’ve always enjoyed the Xs and Os aspect of it.
"I certainly feel I can give a valid critique of what took place in a game, explain why and what the thinking was with players and coaches, or why that mistake occurred. I will have no difficulty in judging whether something was a good or bad decision and maybe even offer some alternatives on other ideas. People just see the behavior, the action. But what has always been fascinating to me is what are the causes that led to that behavior.”