BRACK: Young man who wanted to become sports announcer made it

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher  |  The boy of 12 said to his dad some 50 years ago back in St. Charles, Minn.: “I’ve decided I want to be a sports announcer.”

“Son, are you sure?” the dad said.  “Have you hear about this new world of computers?  Maybe you want to try that.”

But the young man was adamant. A few years later he was broadcasting high school football games for $50 a pop. Later he hued to the same vocational line in college, and had a job announcing sports. His big break came in 1980 when WGST in Atlanta hired him to team with Al Ciraldo calling Georgia Tech football games, as he moved to Atlanta 39 years ago. Still his father continued, “You really should look at computing, for it pays very well.”

Years later, when he had a job as a play-by-play announcer for the Minnesota Vikings, now his father, a Vikings fan, was telling people: “Say, do you know my son is a sports broadcaster for the Vikings?”  Gone were his days suggesting to his son computing.

This announcer been in the Atlanta area since Georgia Tech days, and for the last 32 year living in the same house with his wife, Nancy, in the Berkeley Lake/Duluth area of Gwinnett. We’re talking about Brad Nessler, who will be the lead announcer, teamed with Gary Danielson, on the CBS Sports’s SEC game of the week this fall. He replaces the ever-popular Verne Lundquist.


Nessler was in Atlanta doing the play-by-play for the Atlanta Falcons from 1982 to 1988 on WGST and WSB-AM. He called games for the Minnesota Vikings during the 1988 and 1989 seasons. He also called preseason telecasts for the Miami Dolphins for several years, and has done play-by-play of ACC football and basketball telecasts for Jefferson-Pilot. But he has always considered Atlanta home, after all those years of cold weather in his native Minnesota.

Nessler began working with ESPN sports in 1992, on college basketball games, and later working on the Thursday night football game. He originally worked with Gary Danielson, who was his college football color man, when working for ABC in 1997.  And now after all these years, he’ll be re-united with Danielson on the CBS broadcast of SEC football this fall. Their first game will be September 9 when TCU visits Arkansas.

Over the years, Nessler has worked with many of the key sports broadcasters of the nation, from Dick Vitale, Paul Maguire, Bob Griese, Todd Blackledge, Ron Jaworski, and others.

Most football fans had no idea of the effort it takes to seamlessly be behind the microphone and keeping the game alive for the fans. And while the pressure is on the sportscasters you hear, there’s a ton of people also working on their individual specialists for the games.  Nessler says: “Overall, it probably amounts to a crew of 75 people, from the several cameramen, to the many engineers in the trucks, to those spotting for us. It’s a real team effort. We are just the ones you see.”

Preparation takes all week before football games. “We get tons of information, thick stuff, from CBS Sports, from each of the colleges, and other sources. And we go to the meetings with the coaches before the games, but we don’t get much from them. They’re close-mouthed, not wanting to give away any secrets.”

So beginning this season, look for one of our own Gwinnettians in the pressbox, with the SEC game of the week.