×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: Curt Menefee on ‘Fox NFL Sunday,’ Colin Kaepernick and Rising Football Ratings

Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety‘s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Curt Menefee, host of “Fox NFL Sunday,” the long-running pre-game show being inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in April.

Menefee has a pretty packed week. Mondays are his weekend, he says, discussing the lead-up to the show — “That is the day I like to try to do stuff with the wife” — but reviewing what happened the day before or having to take interviews sometimes gets in the way of that. 

Preparation for the weekly live show begins Tuesday, and doesn’t stop until early Sunday morning leading up to the show’s airtime at 9 a.m.

Having been running since 1994, if it looks like he and his co-hosts Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan are friends, it’s because they are.

“The guys don’t just pretend they like each other when they show up on Sunday. We genuinely do,” he says. “Our wives text each other like high school girls.”

What he loves about the 25-year-old show is that it’s 70% ad-libbed.

“People go, ‘Oh, you guys laugh a lot.’ We laugh because we’re having a good time. I know for a fact that other network pregame shows [have] scripted in there, “laugh here” or “high five here,” he says.

He’s proud to say that they’ve been laughing genuinely since the beginning.

“When you try to memorize something, that’s where you mess up,” he says.

But football and the NFL have changed a lot in the last two and a half decades. Being what Menefee calls “the most popular thing in America,” football is more scrutinized now than ever. He argues that despite claims that the NFL’s ratings have drastically lowered, so have ratings for all of television. Of course, having the President of the United States “ripping the league” doesn’t help either, he adds.

Weighing in on the fallout from the player protests sparked by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Menefee recalled an oft-forgotten fact. 

“It was never about the military,” he says. In fact, Kaepernick wouldn’t even have kneeled if it weren’t for a fellow player, Army serviceman Nate Boyer, who told him that sitting down during the anthem could be seen as disrespectful to the armed services. Kaepernick, who only wanted to make a statement on social injustice, took a knee instead, under advice from Boyer. “People never heard that message,” Menefee says.

As for the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints’ NFC Championship matchup this weekend, “The Rams have better talent, but the Saints have a better team,” he says.

He expects this year’s super bowl will come down to the Saints vs. the Patriots. His money is on the Saints.

Later in the podcast, Variety‘s TV critics Daniel D’Addario and Caroline Framke discuss Showtime’s “Black Monday” and Comedy Central’s “The Other Two.”

New episodes of “TV Take” are available every Friday. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or anywhere you download podcasts. You can find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

Curt Menefee photographed exclusively for the Variety TV Take podcast.
Dan Doperalski for Variety

More TV

  • Bristol, CT - March 13, 2017

    Mina Kimes Helps ESPN Kick Off 'Daily' Podcast

    Mina Kimes is preparing to take ESPN into a new frontier. The sports-media giant has launched a “SportsCenter” for Snapchat and tested baseball telecasts for kids. Now it’s hoping to set up shop in another media venue. Starting tomorrow, the Disney-backed company launches “ESPN Daily,” a weekday morning podcast that aims to tap its vast [...]

  • MIA Wrap

    Rome MIA Market Wraps With Stronger U.S. Presence, Boosts Italy's Industry Standing

    Rome’s MIA market for TV series, feature films and documentaries wrapped positively Sunday with organizers boasting a bump in attendance just as some 2,500 executives departed in an upbeat mood after four days of dealmaking and presentations of mostly European fresh product, which elevated Italy’s global standing in the industry, especially within the TV sector. [...]

  • NETFLIX ZERO SHOWRUNNER

    Showrunner Stefano Voltaggio on Netflix's 'Zero' About Black Youths in Italy (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix recently announced a new Italian original titled “Zero” that will mark the first Italian series centered around the present-day lives of black Italian youths. “Zero” is based on several books by young writer and TV music show host Antonio Dikele Distefano, who was born in Italy from Angolan parents. The project was originated by [...]

  • Content-is-King

    Top TV Execs Tackle New Distribution Landscape in Rome

    ROME – In an increasingly complex TV market, with a host of new big-ticket streaming services preparing to enter an already crowded arena, both buyers and sellers are rethinking some of the fundamentals of the TV business as they grapple with the best way to reach global audiences. A host of top producers, network executives, [...]

  • MIA-MARKET-2019_Europe-Producers-Club_4

    European Producers and Broadcasters Debate How to Weather Streaming Storm

    ROME – The impending rollout of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other new streaming services promises a new era of uncertainty—and opportunity—for broadcasters and producers in an industry already disrupted by the likes of Netflix and Amazon. At a panel hosted by the European Producers Club Friday afternoon during the MIA market in Rome, executives [...]

  • Kevin-Beggs

    Lionsgate TV Chairman Kevin Beggs on Streamers and TV’s ‘Platinum Era’

    ROME – Over the course of two decades in the industry, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs has witnessed the ups and downs of a business that has frequently found itself confronting both dizzying new possibilities as well as existential threats. But these days the veteran exec, who oversees the development of all scripted and non-scripted content [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content