NFL Twitter rejoices over Gus Johnson’s return to play-by-play with Aqib Talib

Gus Johnson is back broadcasting NFL games and Twitter is fired up about it. 

Johnson, who last called an NFL game in 2010, and former All-Pro cornerback Aqib Talib were paired for Fox’s regional telecast of Sunday’s Vikings-Cardinals game in Glendale, Ariz. It was the second broadcast in as many days for Johnson, who also did play-by-play for Saturday’s college football contest between Nebraska and Oklahoma. 

Viewers have long savored Johnson’s commentary because of his energy and how he yells in excitement about plays, even if they’re not explosive or significant. They heard the excitement in the first minute of the game Sunday when Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins completed a 64-yard touchdown pass to receiver KJ Osborn. 

Later on, Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray completed a 77-yard pass to receiver Rondale Moore for a touchdown, a play that is exciting in its own right. But Johnson took it up another notch, adding his own flair and calling Murray “a natural.” 

A look at Johnson’s return to the league with Talib at his side. 

Gus Johnson’s return to pro football 

Fox announced Aug. 2 that Johnson and Talib would call select NFL games this season. The Athletic reported that two of those games will be in Weeks 3 and 4 and that Johnson will “likely do a handful more later in the season depending on the NFL and college schedules.”

This is the first time Johnson has done play-by-play for professional football since 2010, when he was a contracted employee at CBS. He gained national recognition announcing the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament for that network. His call of UCLA’s 17-point comeback over Gonzaga in 2006 was among the most memorable moments. 

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Since joining Fox in 2011, Johnson has been a lead college football and basketball play-by-play announcer. He told The Athletic he will be balancing college football with the NFL; he’ll call Saturday’s game between Notre Dame and Wisconsin in Chicago and then fly to Jacksonville, Fla., to broadcast the Jaguars’ game against the Cardinals on Sunday. 

Johnson’s style — which includes great enthusiasm and catch phrases like “rise and fire” and “Oh, my goodness!” — is a breath of fresh air in NFL broadcasting. 

“I want to get the NFL stuff done early in the week,” Johnson told Awful Announcing of how he’ll prepare for the double duty. “When I hit the college town all my focus is going to be on the college game and putting the boards and the rosters together. I’m just doing it all at the same time. It’s an incredible opportunity. It’s my job. It’s my love. It’s my passion. I’m a real lucky dude to have an opportunity to watch football and there are a lot of people out there in this world that love football.”

Johnson will be joined on NFL broadcasts by Talib, who also earned positive reviews Sunday for his commentary (and style) as the analyst. 

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