Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Athlete/analyst from one sport who worked as a TV analyst in a different sport

Traditionally, the role of a sports TV game analyst is a former player or coach from the same sport. Here is a summary of athletes who played professionally (or at the major collegiate level) in one sport and worked as a TV analyst in that sport, but also worked as an analyst on a national TV network in a different sport.

Note: Several ex-athletes have become play-by-play announcers, hosts, or sideline reporters in another sport, but this post focuses on the unusual case of "crossover" game analysts.


  • CBS used Frank Gifford (football) as an analyst on the college basketball NIT in the 1960s.
  • Pat Summerall (football) served as the CBS analyst on some ABA games in the early 1970s as well as on the NIT.
  • Sonny Jurgensen (football) was the CBS analyst on some 1976 NBA playoff games.


  • Kyle Rote Jr (soccer) worked as a college football analyst for the USA Network in the 1980s.
  • Steve Grote (college basketball) analyzed some college football games for CBS in 1983.
  • Irv Brown (college basketball player and referee) worked as an analyst on some college football games for ESPN.
  • While this is stretching the definition of "athlete", I will note that NBC used professional "wrestlers" Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Jerry "The King" Lawler as XFL analysts in 2001.


  • NBC added Don Meredith (football) as a guest commentator to the TV booth for one Monday Night Baseball game in 1974.
  • Jay Walker (football) worked as an ESPN analyst for some College World Series regionals.



  • Both ABC (1976) and NBC (1992) used OJ Simpson (football) as a track and field analyst on sprint events. 
  • Phil Simms (football) served as the NBC weightlifting analyst for the 1996 games.  


  • TNT utilized Mick Luckhurst (football) as an analyst on the 1990 World Cup.


Golf is a bit trickier as the line between play-by-play and analyst is less clear-cut. But here are some athlete/analysts from other sports who also worked in the golf TV booth:

  • Tony Trabert (tennis)
  • Don Sutton (baseball)
  • Rick Barry (basketball)
  • Terry Gannon (college basketball)
  • Bob Trumpy (football)
  • Pat Haden (football)
  • John Brodie (football) 
  • the aforementioned Gifford and Summerall

Note: Brodie did compete on the Senior PGA Tour, but since he called golf on TV prior to that stint, I included him on the list.


  1. Jeff, I love your blog. Thanks for the great info. Golf is indeed a little different. I could be wrong, but I believe that Tom Brookshier did a golf telecast or two for CBS. Joe Garagiola had a golf tournament in Tucson and probably would have appeared on NBC as a co-host for it.

    By the way, this is not at the network level, but when the New York Titans were starting out, Bob Murphy did the play-by-play and his color commentators included Ralph Kiner! Also, Don Drysdale worked with Dick Enberg on Rams radio broadcasts in the 1970s.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Michael. Great info on Kiner and Drysdale doing local football analyst work.

    2. Thank YOU. I'm also reminded of when NBC got the Moscow Olympics and Tony Kubek had it put in his contract that he did not have to go cover them, because he said he was a baseball man and a baseball man ONLY.

  2. Before he worked on ABC's first year of Monday Night Baseball with Warner Wolf, Bob Gibson did basketball. While he only worked as a color man on WPIX in New York, Bob Gibson called Nets games with Marty Glickman in 1971-72. Gibson's last game was a Nets - Floridians match in St. Petersburg - he started spring training with the Cards the next day. Gibson never played in the NBA, but did play in college and with the Globetrotters.

  3. A special note regarding Jesse Ventura working XFL games...Ventura was Governor of Minnesota at the time he was doing color commentary for XFL games, making him the only incumbent elected official to do commentary for a sporting event on television that I'm aware of.

    1. I think you are correct. And he took a TREMENDOUS amount of heat from all parties during that XFL season. He was NOT a novice doing football broadcasts before that. For at least one season in the late 80's he worked radio broadcasts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I know FOR CERTAIN he was an analyst(in a 3 man booth) on WCCO radio for the Minnesota Vikings for at least the 1990(and maybe 1991) SEASONS.

  4. ESPN hockey analyst Bill Clement was the badminton expert for NBC's Olympics coverage in 2004 and 2008. He was the Quebec provincial champion dung his high school years.

    In Canada, CFL quarterback legend and head coach Ron Lancaster was the colour commentator for basketball during CBC's coverage of the 1988 Olympics. Not only was he their lead colour man on CFL telecasts at the time, he was also a high school basketball coach during his off seasons.

  5. I remember hearing that St. Louis Cardinals baseball broadcaster (on radio) Mike Shannon did analysis on some broadcasts of the football Cardinals' games alongside play-by-play man Bill Wilkerson (Shannon played football in college for a time, and he also excelled in football and basketball in high school).

  6. Didn't CBS use Pat Summerall as play-by-play man for the first year or two they had the NBA?

    1. Yes, Summerall handled NBA play-by-play on CBS for the 1973-74 season. I didn't include that stint on this list because I was focusing on ex-athletes who worked as an analyst for a different sport.