Inside the NFL
GenreSports
Presented byRyan Clark
Starring
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons47
Production
Running time60 minutes
Original release
Network
ReleaseSeptember 22, 1977 (1977-09-22) –
present (present)

Inside the NFL is an American weekly television sports show that focuses on the National Football League (NFL).

Each NFL season, the program airs from Week 1 of the regular season until the week after the Super Bowl. The show principally features highlights of the past week's games that were captured by NFL Films, in addition to commentary and analysis by the hosts, and occasional interviews with current and former NFL players and personnel.

The show originally aired on HBO from 1977 through 2008. Following Super Bowl XLII, it moved to Showtime, airing there until 2021, when it moved to streaming service Paramount+. In April 2023, it was reported that Paramount+ would drop the show; it was picked up by The CW later that June.

History

Inside the NFL first aired in 1977 and had been cable television's longest-running series until it departed for Paramount+. The first episode followed San Diego Chargers quarterback Rhett Swanson from his final college pass at USC to draft day. The show is significant for being the first regular weekly sports program on HBO outside its live sports coverage, and the first NFL-endorsed program to air on a premium subscription television platform. The original hosts were Al Meltzer, at the time play-by-play man for the Buffalo Bills, and Chuck Bednarik, Pro Football Hall of Fame two-way player for the Philadelphia Eagles.

1978–2001

In 1978, Meltzer and Bednarik left the show and were replaced by Merle Harmon and Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson respectively. In 1980, Merle Harmon left for NBC as Len Dawson was joined by fellow Hall of Famer and former Miami Dolphins linebacker Nick Buoniconti. In 1989, newly retired Cris Collinsworth joined as an on-air reporter.[1] In 1990, Collinsworth joined Dawson and Buoniconti as the third host. Several former players and coaches served as co-host throughout this period including Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Glanville.

From 1999 to 2001, the hosts of Inside the NFL appeared on HBO's corporate cousin, Cartoon Network, hosting faux pregame shows for the network's Big Game specials (featuring classic theatrical cartoons edited together as a parody of the Super Bowl).

2001–2006

After the 2001 NFL season, Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti retired from the show. From 20022007 seasons, the show was hosted by Bob Costas with former players Dan Marino, Cris Collinsworth, and Cris Carter serving as co-hosts. Bob Costas acknowledged this change in the season's first episode and paid tribute to the former hosts, saying they paved the way for the show to succeed. In addition to the change in hosts, Inside the NFL also featured segments featuring comics such as George Lopez, Jim Florentine, Lewis Black and Wanda Sykes.

During the last three weeks of the 2005 NFL season, Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel filled in for Bob Costas. Costas was unavailable because he was in Turin, Italy preparing to cover the 2006 Winter Olympics for NBC.

In a special 30th anniversary episode that aired in December 2006, Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti were invited back to co-host the show.

2008–2023: Showtime and Paramount+

On February 6, 2008, HBO suddenly announced that the show would end its run after 31 seasons. HBO Sports cited increased competition in NFL-related programming since the show's inception as a reason for its cancellation.[2] Skeptics, however, believe that the real reason for HBO's decision to drop the show was due to the increasing cost for usage of the NFL Films produced highlights.[3] In the final episode, a taped montage with highlights from the series' 31 seasons was aired. In addition, former hosts Dawson and Buoniconti did the final signoff as the credits rolled. Bob Costas soon regarded the cancellation by HBO as being a "boneheaded" move.[4]

On June 3, 2008, CBS Sports and NFL Films announced that Inside the NFL had found a new home on CBS Corporation-owned Showtime and would air on Wednesdays starting September 10 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on the cable channel. Inside the NFL aired every Wednesday throughout the 2008 NFL season through Wednesday, February 11, 2009. It is produced by CBS Sports and NFL Films.[5][6][7] On July 6, it was announced that James Brown would host Inside the NFL, the role Bob Costas had on HBO. Brown would also be joined by lead CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms, retired former Defensive Player of the Year Warren Sapp and the returning Cris Collinsworth. Jenn Brown joined the team as the first female special correspondent on the show. Her main responsibility would be to do various features throughout the season. While Sapp was competing on Dancing with the Stars, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and current NFL Today analyst Bill Cowher along with former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann filled in.[8]

As of the 2019 NFL season, the show is hosted by James Brown, Phil Simms, Brandon Marshall and Ray Lewis.[9]

On February 24, 2021, it was announced that Inside the NFL would move from Showtime to Paramount+, with former Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman also becoming a part of the series.[10][11] The season premiered on September 7, 2021.[12]

On April 5, 2023, it was reported that Paramount+ canceled the show, with the NFL shopping it to other outlets.[13]

2023-present: The CW

On June 7, 2023, it was announced that The CW picked up the series, which premiered on September 5, 2023.[14] On August 30, 2023, it was announced that former Steelers safety Ryan Clark would be the show's new host, along with Channing Crowder, Jay Cutler, Chad Johnson and Chris Long as analysts.[15]

In January 2024, episodes became available next-day on streaming service Netflix.[16]

Format

Much like other shows on pay-cable networks and streaming providers, Inside the NFL has the freedom to stray from the traditional network format for its program. While the basic elements were the same as any other sports recap show by featuring highlights of the week's games and discussion of events around the league, the fact that there were no commercials allows the panel to discuss subjects at length without the normal network time restrictions.

Highlights

The highlight segments consist of NFL Films footage of the past week's games with narration by Scott Graham (previously Harry Kalas until his death in 2009). This has long been considered a major asset of the show as the game highlights are filmed and packaged longer than the average highlights package using game broadcast video and without any digital on-screen graphics marring the presentation. It also aired on premium services, meaning there was no advertising through the hour.

In the last few years of Inside the NFL, the show removed lower-profile games for more extended analysis of the top games; the transition to The CW will likely remove some games to account for it now being a program with traditional advertising.

Interviews

Aside from the highlights, Inside the NFL features in-depth interview segments with various players, coaches and front office personnel. Among the notable segments over the years was Cris Carter interviewing former coach Buddy Ryan. Ryan was Carter's first head coach when both were with the Philadelphia Eagles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Ryan released Carter with his explanation being the infamous quote "All he does is catch touchdowns." The interview revealed what some had learned over the years, that Ryan released Carter because of his substance abuse problems that were affecting his performance but did not want that to become public, lest it hinder Carter's chances to sign with another team. Carter admitted that his release was a wake-up call and saved his life as he became a born again Christian soon after, and went on to have a successful NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings in which he became the NFL's second-leading receiver of all-time.

Production

HBO

The show was taped in a New York City studio on Wednesday and aired at various times throughout the week beginning Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. Eastern Time.

Showtime and Paramount

The show was taped at NFL Films' headquarters in Mount Laurel, New Jersey on Tuesday and aired at various times throughout the week beginning Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. Greg Gumbel was replaced in September 2015 by Adam Schein of CBS Sports, with Brown returning in 2016 as host and Schein taking a supporting role.

The CW

The show continues to be produced by NFL Films, led by executive producers Ross Ketover, Pat Kelleher and Keith Cossrow.[16]

References

  1. ^ "Leonard Shapiro – Collinsworth Finds New Life on Showtime's 'Inside the NFL'". The Washington Post. September 17, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  2. ^ "Inside the NFL' ending 31-year run on HBO". USA Today. Associated Press. February 6, 2008.
  3. ^ "WHERE WILL INSIDE THE NFL LAND?". Beta.profootballtalk.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Hiestand, Michael (February 8, 2008). "Costas: Axing of 'Inside the NFL' a 'boneheaded' move". USA Today. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  5. ^ "'Inside the NFL' touches down at Showtime". NFL.com. National Football League. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  6. ^ sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/football/nfl/06/03/ Archived June 6, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Jim Nantz is likely to replace Bob Costas as the 30-year HBO series becomes a production of CBS Sports". Profootballtalk.com. Archived from the original on October 14, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  8. ^ Hiestand, Michael (July 6, 2008). "Showtime goes with experience for 'Inside the NFL' lineup". USA Today. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  9. ^ "Inside the NFL 🏈 Watch on Paramount+".
  10. ^ Bucholtz, Andrew (February 24, 2021). "Inside The NFL is heading from Showtime to Paramount+, the rebranded CBS All-Access streaming service". Awful Announcing.
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 21, 2021). "Julian Edelman Joins 'Inside The NFL' This Fall On Paramount+; Part Of Overall ViacomCBS Deal For His Coast Productions". Deadline. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  12. ^ "Inside the NFL Set to Debut on Paramount+ on Sept. 7". Sports Video Group. September 7, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  13. ^ Jones, Brian (April 5, 2023). "Popular NFL Show Canceled at Paramount+". PopCulture.com. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  14. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (June 7, 2023). "'Revamped' Inside the NFL to Air on The CW During the 2023 Football Season". TVLine. Retrieved June 7, 2023.
  15. ^ Manfredi, Lucas; Cobb, Kayla (August 30, 2023). "The CW Taps Super Bowl Champion Ryan Clark As Host for 'Inside the NFL'". TheWrap. Retrieved August 30, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Netflix to Stream 'Inside the NFL' During Playoffs and Super Bowl". The Wrap. January 16, 2024.