NBC Sports Premier League studio analyst Tim Howard wears big shoes.

The United States Men’s National Team legend is the primary American-accented studio voice analyzing the English top flight for a US audience. Howard is currently in his third season in NBC’s Premier League Live studio. That follows a playing career as the most-capped goalkeeper in the history of the US men. He is one of the most recognizable figures in the sport in North America.

Howard’s long club career took him from MLS to the Premier League, where he spent well over a decade. Then, he returned to MLS before ending his career in USL. He concluded the 24 years between the sticks with Memphis 901 FC, a club he co-owns.

Co-commentary opportunities augmented his playing days. In fact, Howard served as a co-commentator for NBC Sports in their very first year of covering the Premier League during the 2013-14 season. That experience helped Howard grasp the responsibilities of analyzing matches. Therefore, he transitioned smoothly into his post-playing career.

Speaking exclusively to World Soccer Talk at the recent Premier League Fan Fest in Orlando, Howard spoke in more detail about the transition.

“I think the fact that I was able to work some co-comms with NBC helped me transition. I knew the people, I already had a great working relationship with [NBC Sports’ Premier League producer] Pierre Moossa, the Robbies (Earle and Mustoe) and Rebecca (Lowe). It’s always a difficult transition for any athlete retiring from playing. But, ultimately, that experience helped me feel safe, wanted and welcome.”

Return trips to England and past experience

As a famous former player, Tim Howard garners considerable attention when NBC’s studio crew visits England. NBC makes that pilgrimage at least once per season. Rebecca Lowe recounts that Howard, as a player for Everton and Manchester United, earns so much attention due to his high profile in the game and his sizeable contact list.

Trips to England helped Howard shape his viewpoints, stay connected to the league and become a stronger studio analyst. 

“I think it’s very important we get over there once or twice a season, it helps the broadcast and brings a real feel to the audience. It helps me, as well, as it brings the power and pace of the Premier League, something I experienced for years as a player. It’s something that’s breathtaking in person and so you try and get that across to the audience.“

Being a former standout goalkeeper also gives Howard a somewhat different perspective than field players who become analysts. Yet, a career spanning over two decades and time spent with hundreds of different players shapes his viewpoints too.

“The position we play in our careers gives us a view and different perspectives to the game and play on the pitch. I try and draw from that experience. There is a lot I learned across 22 years in the game of football, not just from a goalkeeping angle, but inside the dressing room, when the team travels and all of that. I want to try and use all those experiences to help convey my thoughts to the audience.” 

Tim Howard remains one connection away from Premier League

Having played for over two decades, Howard has many former teammates and coaches. One of Howard’s longtime former teammates is Mikel Arteta. The two played for five seasons together at Everton. Also, one of his former managers is David Moyes, who coached Howard for seven seasons at Goodison Park.

Overall, Howard spent a decade at Everton, and is a club legend for the Merseyside club. In Howard’s career, Everton qualified for European competition four times. Three of those European qualifications came under Moyes, with Arteta as a teammate. 

“With both Moyes and Arteta, and some others, I have a relationship with them where I know who they are as people where I get the tactical side of their thoughts and can work some of that out. It’s very important you give the viewer the insight into how these people are as managers and as teammates and as coaches, because I have had those experiences with them.”

Howard also noted the preparation involved in covering the league. It does not just shut off when matches end and flip on when the matches begin the following week. He relishes the continued work, saying it is akin, in many ways, to being part of a club team. 

The preparation for each weekend’s matches involves watching clips and full matches back. He can pick up on tactical trends and other important items. Therefore, the viewer watches and learns during each studio broadcast.

“The grind is beautiful. It’s what I was built for. It is what you miss when you can no longer play the game, you miss the team camaraderie, the intense schedule, the grind as you put it. We’re built for this, and you miss it when it is not there, so it is good to have it back.”

PHOTO: IMAGO / Propaganda Photo