A weekly staple of an NFL Sunday is the CBS Halftime Show, but who are the commentators that make up the panel each week? Who are those now familiar faces that break down the action each and every week of the football season?
Who are the CBS NFL halftime commentators in 2021?
The CBS NFL halftime commentators have changed a number of times over the past couple of decades. However, for the past five seasons, the group has remained largely intact. James Brown fills the role of host, with Phil Simms, Nate Burleson, Boomer Esiason, and Bill Cowher filling out the show.
Let’s take a look at the careers of each of the six personalities who appear on the NFL Today Halftime Show on CBS?
James Brown | Host since 2006
After leaving Harvard in the mid-1970s, Brown initially tried to make it in the NBA. However, he was unable to claim a roster spot for the Atlanta Hawks. After spending time in the corporate world, he joined CBS in 1984 as an analyst and announcer for the Washington Bullets. He served many roles for CBS Sports, including covering events such as the NBA Finals, 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics, and providing baseball coverage in 1990.
In 1994, Brown moved to FOX as the host of their NFL pregame show and was the lead studio host for FOX NHL Saturday. He returned to CBS after the 2005 NFL season and took over the role of host of the CBS NFL halftime and pregame shows from Greg Gumbel. Brown has been in the role ever since.
Phil Simms | Studio Analyst since 2017
Simms spent 15 years in the NFL with the New York Giants. During that time, he won the Super Bowl twice and had his No. 11 jersey retired. His NFL career started when he was selected seventh overall in the 1979 NFL Draft. Simms was released by the Giants in 1993. Despite considering playing for the Cardinals and Browns the following two seasons, he remained retired.
Simms’ broadcasting career began in 1994 when he joined ESPN. He then moved on to be part of NBC’s lead broadcast crew. In 1998, he moved to CBS, partnering first with Gumbel and then with Jim Nantz on CBS’ lead broadcast team. When Tony Romo moved into the booth, Simms transitioned into his current role as a studio analyst on the team of CBS’ NFL halftime commentators.
Nate Burleson | Studio Analyst since 2017
Burleson was selected in the 2003 NFL Draft and played in the NFL for 11 years with the Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, and Minnesota Vikings. In 2012, he attended a Broadcast Boot Camp put on by the NFL. He began working as an analyst in 2014 with NFL Network. When Good Morning Football was launched in 2016, Burleson was part of the team with Kay Adams, Kyle Brandt, and Peter Schrager.
Burleson joined the NFL on CBS team in the 2017 season. In 2021, he won his first Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Studio Analyst. Burleson served as the color commentator for the NFL Nickelodeon Wild Card games in 2021 and 2022. He joined CBS Mornings as a co-anchor in 2021 and became the host of Nickelodeon’s weekly highlight show.
Boomer Esiason | Studio Analyst since 2002
Esiason began his NFL career as a second-round selection in the 1984 NFL Draft out of Maryland. He played for 14 years with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals. He was voted the NFL MVP in 1988 as he led the Bengals to the Super Bowl — which they lost 20-16 to the San Francisco 49ers.
Esiason’s broadcasting career began while he was still playing. He worked with Brad Nessler providing the color commentary for USA Network’s World League of American Football (WLAF) on Monday nights. When he retired, Esiason spent two years as the color commentator for Monday Night Football on ESPN. He moved to Westwood One, where he broadcasted a record 19 Super Bowls. During that time, he also began as part of the NFL on CBS panel.
Bill Cowher | Studio Analyst since 2007
Cowher played four years in the NFL between 1980-1984. He is best known as the Hall of Fame head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cowher spent 18 years in charge of the Steelers. He led the team to the playoffs 10 times and won the Super Bowl in 2005.
Following his retirement as the Steelers’ head coach, Cowher joined the NFL on CBS team. He has been part of the CBS team ever since and is often referred to as “coach” during the show.
Who else appears as part of the CBS NFL halftime commentators?
Although they usually appear more on the pregame show, the likes of Jason La Canfora, Jim Rome, and Tony Romo have appeared during halftime. La Canfora serves the role of NFL reporter and Insider for CBS and will often appear to discuss the latest news around the NFL. Romo will occasionally join the show from the booth of wherever he is providing the color commentary that week for CBS.
Historically, commentators on the NFL CBS Halftime Show include Tony Gonzalez, Bart Scott, Shannon Sharpe, Dan Marino, Deion Sanders, Mike Ditka, Jim Nantz, Terry Bradshaw, and Brent Musburger.