The Onion Bag

Forget Tony Romo, Louth's Tommy Smyth is making a name for himself as the new voice of the NFL

The Irish man has taken over as the voice of Thursday Night Football for Amazon this year.

TONY ROMO MIGHT be getting a lot of praise in his first year as a colour commentator on NFL games but, as you can see above, Ireland’s Tommy Smyth is getting his fair share of attention.

Smyth, along with Derek Rae, is the co-commentator on the ‘UK English’ feed for 11 Thursday night games this season on Amazon Prime. The Seattle-based organisation paid $50 million to win the broadcast rights from Twitter.

And yes, it is the same Tommy Smyth who spent two and a half decades with ESPN, commenting on no fewer than 18 Champions League and six World Cups finals, before ending his relationship with the media giants earlier this year.

Smyth’s NFL broadcasts can be heard around the world; not bad for a man who left Knockbridge 54 years ago.

Speaking to The42 this week, Smyth said that — alongside being asked to act as grand marshall in the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade — getting the phone call to add colour to NFL broadcasts was the strangest experience of his life.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” he said.

I thought it was one of my friends joking. But I was delighted to be asked.

“I’ve followed the NFL quite closely for years but I’ve still to do a lot of studying before each game because the fans won’t appreciate it if you get any statistics wrong.

“But I enjoy it.”

While Smyth doesn’t get to use his famous “bulge in the old onion bag” phrase during NFL games, he does think that an Irish accent — and the Irish lexicon — add a uniqueness to the broadcast on Amazon.

In addition to his NFL gig, Smyth keeps himself busy working on a daily two-hour show at Sirius XM — The Grumpy Pundits with Rodney Marsh — but despite the glamour of his new job, it’s a sporting event closer to home that he would most love to commentate on.

“Without a doubt, the All-Ireland final,” he says.

“And Louth don’t even have to win it.”

For now though, Smyth has the Seahawks and Cardinals to focus on in the early hours of Friday morning — 1.30am — with both teams needing a win to keep pace with the LA Rams in the NFC West.

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