After a successful debut on Football Night in America, Steve Kornacki will return to the NFL playoff Big Board for the remainder of the season for NBC. He won’t be needed for over at the political desk for any recounts or vote tallies. Instead, we’ll get to see the man in khakis tell us how the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, and other bubble teams can make the playoffs for four more weeks.
He won’t be tallying suburban exit numbers in Atlanta or discussing the importance of Maricopa County. No. He’ll be on TV tonight to talk about another 2020 logjam... the NFL playoff picture.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Late enough in the season to start talking about the playoffs, but early enough for virtually every team to have a path to the postseason.
Is there a way for the 0-12 Jets to get in? [Checks notes] No. 0 percent chance. The 1-11 Jaguars can’t get in either.
But every other NFL team has a shot. So NBC tapped Kornacki to help viewers wade through these playoff waters.
“I’ve been a fan of the game since I was kid and SNF has been must-see TV for me since it started back in ‘06,” said Kornacki. “Truly a thrill to get this chance, especially as the season reaches its most exciting point. I spent the last year using the Big Board to map out all of the various roads to 270 and I can’t wait to put it to use breaking down all of the paths to the playoffs.”
Kornacki grew up a football fan, but also a sports fan in general.
In a 2011 essay for Salon, in which Kornacki came out as gay, he wrote about his love of sports and how it, at times, conflicted with his identity.
He opens with a scene from his sophomore year in High School. He was at a basketball game, wondering why he wasn’t looking at cheerleaders the same way as the guys around him.
“I was the All-American kid, or so I told myself,” he wrote. “I just didn’t fit the stereotypes of gay men. I was an ESPN addict as far back as elementary school.”
He also describes an early memory driving around Provincetown. “I remember seeing drag queens and men dressed in skimpy attire and thinking to myself: Get me out of here so I can watch a baseball game.”
Tony Dungy, a Hall of Fame coach and NBC contributor who has made homophobic comments before, will also be a part of the regular NBC broadcast crew.
But as long as there’s a touch screen around, Kornacki can make the complex feel digestible. The longtime sports fan will get his shot to engage and entertain football junkies on NBC’s Football Night in America.