CBS Sports Anchor James Brown Breaks Silence On Top Colleagues' Exits

By Jason Hall

May 17, 2024

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Photo: Getty Images

Veteran CBS Sports anchor James Brown broke his silence on the exits of longtime NFL Today colleagues Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms during an appearance on the Sports Business Radio Podcast this week.

“You know what, and I’m sure you know this, it’s a family,” Brown said. “I would be disingenuous that there wasn’t some disappointment because (Simms and Esiason) have been family for decades. Literally, just about decades. Boomer and I worked together for a long period of time. They’re hard-working guys.”

Brown initially joined CBS in the 1984, which included multiple stints before leaving for FOX Sports in 1994 and returning to CBS in 2005, taking over as the NFL Today anchor during Esiason's fifth season on the panel. Simms, who had previously worked as the network's lead NFL in-game analyst prior to the hiring of Tony Romo, joined the show in 2017.

“Phil Simms, there’s no one in television or radio — no one — who works harder than Phil. He knows the game; he’s that expression that we use when we somebody see somebody who loves being out there practicing over and over and over again — Michael Jordan on the court or whomever. He’s a gym rat. Boomer covers the whole range of sports. He loves it. It’s his life,” Brown said.

“So, yeah, I’m saying there’s sadness there because they were teammates. But we’re also big boys. We all played sports — they have longer than me. And we understand that it’s part of the business.”

Simms, 68, and Esiason, 63, were announced to be departing CBS Sports' NFL television coverage amid a shakeup ahead of the 2024 season. Former NFL quarterback Matt Ryan -- who officially announced his retirement last month -- will be moving from the in-game broadcast booth to the studio show joining James Brown, Bill Cowher and J.J. Watt -- who had contributed to the show during his first post-retirement season in 2023 -- for the 2024 NFL season.

“We did that last year with JJ Watt. Look, he is — and this is not a matter of being cocky — he’s self-assured because he’s at that level as a premiere player and one who loves the sport. And as a teammate, and knows how to get his teammates fired up as well, too,” Brown said. “So, we bring in a couple of guys who are pined for success, and we want to make sure that the transition is as seamless and as quick as possible by having meetings and getting to know each other.

"Nothing beats getting to know each other, breaking bread, and learning about your colleague, so you’ll know how best to play off and to set them up.”

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