Brent Musburger hadn’t given NFL radio play-by-play a thought until a chance meeting with the Raiders owner at a Las Vegas Golden Knights game.
“Mark Davis and I were chatting and he said, ‘Say, would you like to do some broadcasting with us?’” Musburger said Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show. “... I said, ‘Sure, we’ll talk about it.’”
Musburger said he assumed Davis was talking about doing some preseason work until he was contacted by Raiders president Marc Badain.
“Suddenly it dawned on me, they were talking about the full radio gig, doing every game,” Musburger said. “I wasn’t thinking about going back into the booth.”
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Musburger has done television and teamed with Dick Vermeil, the former Philadelphia Eagles coach who retired in 1982 and then came back in 1997 with the St. Louis Rams — winning a Super Bowl championship — and said the idea of Jon Gruden coming back was intriguing.
“I stayed close with Dick through the years and it’s always a great story and people say, ‘Aw, the game has passed him by,’” Musburger said. “I don’t think so. That’s how it came about.”
Musburger, 79, is an iconic voice in television announcing (CBS, ABC and ESPN) but has limited experience doing radio. He replaces the popular Greg Papa, who was let go after 21 seasons as voice of the Raiders.
Papa said on his radio show on 95.7 The Game on Monday he believed his firing was because of a rift with Davis which began when he criticized the organization’s interest in Mike Shanahan for the coaching vacancy in 2015.
The Raiders announced Monday that Musburger would be joined by Lincoln Kennedy as analyst (replacing Tom Flores), with Greg Townsend doing sideline work (replacing Kennedy).
Musburger is lead broadcaster and managing editor for at Vegas Stats and Information Network, which has a heavy emphasis on sports gambling.
He has been studying up on the Raiders, and believes there could be between 25 and 30 new faces on the roster. Although not mentioning Todd Downing by name, Musburger questioned the offensive direction.
“Whoever was operating the offense for Jack Del Rio, it didn’t strike me as someone who really knew how to operate an offense,” Musburger said. “When Gruden was first with the Raiders, the one thing they could do is move the football. Jon knows how to do that.
“(Derek) Carr was up and down last year. When the team played well it was because he was really at the top of his game. And when they played poorly, to tell the truth, that’s when he threw most of his interceptions and turned it over.”
Musburger believes a lot of the issues, including getting wide receiver Amari Cooper free, had to do with play design. On defense, Musburger cited the meager season total of five interceptions and said a team “to stay relevant” needs 21 to 24 interceptions.
“Long-term, I think they’re going to do very well,” Musburger said. “One thing Gruden did that Vermeil didn’t do, he tore that roster up right away.”
Musburger said Vermeil told him about an inteviewer who was aghast at the reported $10 million salary per year the Raiders will pay Gruden. According to Musberger, Vermeil’s response was, “It’s about time.”