Inside the NFL

Inside the NFL is a weekly cable television sports show that focuses on the National Football League. It originally aired on HBO from 1977 through 2008. Following Super Bowl XLII, HBO announced that it would be dropping the program, and it was subsequently picked up by the Showtime network.

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.

Inside the NFL
Presented byJames Brown
Phil Simms
Boomer Esiason
Ray Lewis
Country of originUnited States
Running time1 hour
Original networkHBO (September 1977 – February 2008)
Showtime (September 2008 – present)
NFL Network (September 2014 – present)
Original releaseSeptember 14, 1977 –


Inside the NFL first aired in 1977 and is cable television's longest running series. The first episode followed Charger quarterback Rhett Swanson from his final college pass at USC to draft day. This concept was later copied by ESPN. The show is significant for being the first major sports-related program to air on the then relatively new HBO network. Perhaps more significant is the fact that it was the first NFL-related program to air on cable. 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.


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, Cris Collinsworth joined as an on-air reporter.[1] In 1990, Cris 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.

End of the Dawson–Buoniconti era

After the 2001 NFL season, Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti retired from the show. From 2002–2007 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 which aired in December 2006, Len Dawson and Nick Buoniconti were invited back to co-host the show.

Cancellation, rebirth, and move to Showtime

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[3] for usage of the NFL Films produced highlights. 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"[4] move.

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 will 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 2017 NFL season, the show is hosted by James Brown, Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, and Ray Lewis.[9]


Much like other shows on pay-cable networks, Inside the NFL had 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 weeks games and discussion of events around the league, the fact that there were no commercials allowed the panel to discuss subjects at length without the normal network time restrictions.


The highlight segments consisted of NFL Films footage of the past week's games with narration by Harry Kalas (following Kalas' death in 2009, Scott Graham took over as the narrator). This had long been considered a major asset of the show as the game highlights usually exceed the typical 15–30-second token package seen on most major networks. This was the case at least until the NFL Network emerged during the 2003 season and aired shows such as the show Point After that showed extended highlight segments.

In the last few years of Inside the NFL, the show decreased its highlight segments, eliminating some low-profile games.


Aside from the highlights, Inside the NFL always focused on 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.



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.


The show is 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.

NFL Network

It was announced in NFL's promos that the show will air on NFL Network starting September 3, 2014. The show's presentation is slightly different, slotted into a 90-minute slot to accommodate advertising and with segments split by teaser continuity.


  1. ^ "Leonard Shapiro – Collinsworth Finds New Life on Showtime's 'Inside the NFL'". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. September 17, 2008. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  2. ^ "Inside the NFL' ending 31-year run on HBO". USA Today. Gannett Company. Associated Press. February 6, 2008.
  3. ^ "HBO is denying that the show was killed to save money. According to, however, HBO was paying NFL Films a whopping $8 million a year for use of the highlights". Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  4. ^ Hiestand, Michael (February 8, 2008). "Bob Costas calls HBO's axing of "Inside the NFL" a "boneheaded" move". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  5. ^ "". National Football League. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  6. ^ 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". Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  8. ^ Hiestand, Michael (July 6, 2008). "2008-07-06-inside-nfl". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  9. ^

External links

26th Sports Emmy Awards

The 26th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2004 were presented on May 2, 2005 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 9.

27th Sports Emmy Awards

The 27th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2005 were presented on May 1, 2006 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 29.

28th Sports Emmy Awards

The 28th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2006 were presented on April 30, 2007 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 22.

29th Sports Emmy Awards

The 29th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2007 was presented on April 28, 2008 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 13.

30th Sports Emmy Awards

The 30th Sports Emmy Awards were presented on April 27, 2009 in the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. The nominees were announced on April 2.

32nd Sports Emmy Awards

The 32nd Sports Emmy Awards were presented on May 2, 2011 at the Frederick P. Rose Hall at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

34th Sports Emmy Awards

The 34th Sports Emmy Awards were presented on May 7, 2013 at the Frederick P. Rose Hall at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Boomer Esiason

Norman Julius "Boomer" Esiason (; born April 17, 1961) is a retired American football quarterback and former network color commentator. During his 14-year career in the National Football League (NFL), Esiason played for the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals. Since retiring from playing, he has worked as a football analyst for ABC, HBO and Westwood One, and currently for CBS Sports on The NFL Today and Showtime's Inside the NFL. Esiason also hosts the morning sports radio program Boomer and Gio on WFAN in New York.

Cris Carter

Graduel Christopher Darin Carter (usually Cris; born November 25, 1965) is a former American football player in the National Football League. He was a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles (1987–89), the Minnesota Vikings (1990–2001) and the Miami Dolphins (2002). After starting for the Ohio State University Buckeyes, Carter was drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 1987 NFL supplemental draft. While in Philadelphia, head coach Buddy Ryan helped to coin one of ESPN's Chris Berman's famous quotes about Carter: "All he does is catch touchdowns." He was let go by Ryan in 1989, however, due to off-the-field issues. Carter was signed by the Vikings and turned his life and career around, becoming a two-time first-team and one-time second-team All-Pro and playing in eight consecutive Pro Bowls. When he left the Vikings after 2001, he held most of the team career receiving records. He briefly played for the Dolphins in 2002 before retiring.Since retiring from the NFL, Carter has worked on HBO's Inside the NFL, ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown, and online at Yahoo Sports. He also works as an assistant coach at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where his son played wide receiver. In 2017, Carter began co-hosting First Things First with Nick Wright on FS1. Carter resides in Boca Raton, Florida. He is the brother of former NBA player and coach Butch Carter.After six years, and five finalist selections, Carter was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on February 2, 2013.

Cris Collinsworth

Anthony Cris Collinsworth (born January 27, 1959) is an American sports broadcaster and former professional American football player who was a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for eight seasons, all with the Cincinnati Bengals, during the 1980s. He played college football for the University of Florida, and was recognized as an All-American. He is currently a television sportscaster for NBC, Showtime, and the NFL Network and winner of 15 Sports Emmy Awards. He is also the owner of Pro Football Focus, a sports statistic monitoring service.

Don Jamieson (comedian)

Don Jamieson(born September 27, 1966) is best known as a co-host of VH1 Classic's hit heavy metal talk show series "That Metal Show" where legends of rock hang out to discuss their past and current projects in front of a live studio audience. Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed the program one of the 50 Best Reasons to Watch TV! He also co-hosted "Beer Money" a fast paced, non traditional sports quiz show airing on SNY (SportsNet NY).

Amongst his many accomplishments Jamieson's 3 stand-up CD's "Live & Hilarious," "Hell Bent for Laughter" and "Communication Breakdown" on Metal Blade Records all hit the Top 20 on iTunes and Top 10 on the Billboard comedy charts. He is proudly sponsored by Monster Energy Drinks and True Religion Clothing.

Jamieson's proudest moment is being an Emmy Award-Winner for his work on HBO's "Inside The NFL." Don and his long time comedy partner Jim Florentine lent their brand of humor to the popular sports show, writing producing and performing sports themed comedy sketches.

The two have also collaborated on the hidden camera DVD and Comedy Central web series "Meet The Creeps" as well as a series of prank call CD's. "Terrorizing Telemarketers," heard regularly on the Howard Stern radio show. He is also a joke writer for the country's best celebrity roaster, Lisa Lampanelli and spent many years as Andrew Dice Clay's opener.

Don's stand-up act brings his everyday take on life with an added dash of sarcasm for good measure. He's able to make people laugh at things they wouldn't normally laugh at and then laugh again at that realization. Besides performing in clubs and theaters all over the country he also performs stand up at rock festivals such as Rock On The Range, Monsters of Rock Cruise and Metallica's Orion Music + More Festival where he was introduced by drummer Lars Ulrich.

Harry Kalas

Harold Norbert Kalas (March 26, 1936 – April 13, 2009) was an American sportscaster, best known for his Ford C. Frick Award-winning role as lead play-by-play announcer for Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies, a position he held from 1971 until his death in 2009.

Kalas was also closely identified with the National Football League, serving as a voice-over narrator for NFL Films productions (a regular feature on Inside the NFL) and calling football games nationally for Westwood One radio.

Kalas collapsed in the Washington Nationals' broadcast booth on April 13, 2009, about an hour before a Phillies game was scheduled to begin against the Nationals, and died soon afterward.

Jerry Glanville

Jerry Michael Glanville (born October 14, 1941) is an American football coach. He also played football at Northern Michigan University in the early 1960s, and is a former NASCAR driver and owner, and sportscaster. He served as head coach of the Houston Oilers from 1986 to 1990 and the Atlanta Falcons from 1990 to 1994, compiling a career NFL record of 63–73. From 2007 to 2009, he was the Head Football Coach at Portland State University, tallying a mark of 9–24. Glanville has worked as an analyst on HBO's Inside the NFL, CBS's The NFL Today/NFL on CBS and Fox's coverage of the NFL. He has also raced on the Automobile Racing Club of America circuit. Glanville also briefly served as a consultant and liaison for the United Football League in 2011.

While head coach of the Houston Oilers, Glanville coined the now-famous phrase "NFL means 'not for long'", while admonishing a game official for making what Glanville felt were bad calls. The exact quote is "This is N-F-L, which stands for 'not for long' when you make them fuckin' calls." The "NFL" line was in reference to the fact that the official Glanville was criticizing was in his first year in the league, having previously worked in college football.

Joe Queenan

Joe Queenan is a prolific free-lance satirist and critic. He is the author of nine books, including Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon and If You’re Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble. His best-selling memoir Closing Time was a 2009 New York Times Notable Book.

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Queenan has written for such publications as Spy Magazine, TV Guide, Movieline, The Guardian, and The New York Times Book Review. He writes the Moving Targets column for the Wall Street Journal and regularly writes about movies for The Guardian.

Formerly an editor at Forbes, a staff writer at Barron’s, a television critic at People, and a columnist at TV Guide, GQ, Spy, Smart Money, Men’s Health, Barron’s Online and Movieline, his stories have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Esquire, the New Republic, Time, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Toronto Globe & Mail, Playboy, Rotarian, Golf Digest, Us, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Town & Country, Allure, the New York Daily News and New York. His work has appeared overseas in the Independent, the Spectator, the Times of London, and Bon.

Queenan has been a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Daily Show, Today, Good Morning, America, Charlie Rose and Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and appeared more than a dozen times on Politically Incorrect. He regularly writes and hosts radio features for the BBC, and for three years was host of the BBC’s Postcard from Gotham.

In 2005, he won a Sports Emmy for his work on HBO’s Inside the NFL. He wrote and appeared in three short films for Channel 4 in Britain: Mickey Rourke for a Day, My Fair Hugh and So You Wanna Be a Gangster. He has also made a low-budget film about people with maddening addictions, entitled 12 Steps to Death. The experience was recounted in his book The Unkindest Cut.

His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including the North American Review. His snap Internet novella Serb Heat was published online by Mr. Showbiz in 1997.

In 2019, Queenan co-authored with T.J. Elliott his first stage play, the problem comedy Alms, an Equity Showcase production at TheaterLab in New York City.

A native of Philadelphia, a graduate of St. Joseph’s College, he is married, with two children, Bridget, a neuroscientist, and Gordon, a lawyer. He lives in Tarrytown, N.Y.

List of programs broadcast by NFL Network

The following is a list of programs broadcast by the NFL Network.

Outstanding Studio Show

The Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Studio Show was first awarded in 1988. One sports studio show, whether a pregame or a nightly news show, was honored each year. In 2001, the category was split into two subcategories — Outstanding Studio Show, Daily and Outstanding Studio Show, Weekly, thus awarding two shows annually.

Peter Schrager

Peter Schrager (born April 20, 1982) is a current sportscaster on Fox Sports and NFL Network.

Schrager serves as an analyst on "Fox NFL Kickoff" as well as a Sideline Reporter on Fox Sports. In addition to his gameday coverage, he is a regular contributor to FS1 studio shows, The Herd with Colin Cowherd and Speak for Yourself. Peter also stars alongside Kyle Brandt, Nate Burleson, and Kay Adams on NFL Network's popular weekday morning show Good Morning Football.

In addition to his work with FOX Sports and the NFL Network, Schrager is also the author of two books: Strength of a Champion with O. J. Brigance (2013), and the New York Times Best Seller, Out of the Blue with Victor Cruz (2012). Schrager has also worked as an editorial contributor for Showtime's Inside the NFL, which earned a Sports Emmy in 2013 for Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly.

Ross Greenburg

Ross Greenburg (born c. 1955) was president of HBO Sports from 2000 to 2011.He was executive producer for HBO Sports in 1985. During his tenure he won 51 Sports Emmys and 8 Peabody Awards. He succeeded Seth Abraham as president.HBO Sports is famous for its series Sports of the 20th Century a series of sports documentaries produced by Greenburg, as well as the leading sports magazine show Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, a football studio show led by Bob Costas, Dan Marino, Cris Carter, and Cris Collinsworth titled Inside the NFL and HBO World Championship Boxing. In 1990, he won the Sam Taub Award for excellence in boxing broadcasting journalism. He graduated from Brown University in 1977.

Scott Graham

Scott Graham (born June 10, 1965) is an American sportscaster best known for his broadcasts of the Philadelphia Phillies, his work with NFL Films, and his studio hosting with The NFL on Westwood One. He has lived and worked near Philadelphia for most of his professional life. He was born June 10, 1965 in Belleville, New Jersey, and now lives in Voorhees Township, New Jersey. Graham graduated from Pingry School in 1983. His sportscasting résumé covers several organizations in Philadelphia and around the United States. Graham is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

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