The Eagles find themselves in a familiar position as they prepare to take on the New Orleans Saints in the NFC playoffs Sunday. Once again, the underdogs will need quarterback Nick Foles to lead them to three unlikely wins in order to become Super Bowl champions.
But it’ll be an entirely new experience for FOX NFL analyst Charles Davis, who will be calling his first NFL playoff game from the booth in the Superdome, alongside play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and sideline reporter Pam Oliver.
Davis had the chance to call one Eagles game this season — the team’s 21-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 7, where the team blew a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter. But Davis said he thinks the team is now playing at a higher level, and doesn’t expect a repeat of the 48-7 blowout loss the Birds suffered against the Saints back in Week 11.
“The Eagles' playoffs really started three or four weeks ago,” Davis said. “They had to win and get some help. And if they lost at anytime along the way, you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Davis was plucked away from college football coverage and moved into the NFL booth full-time in 2015, taking the slot that would’ve gone to Donovan McNabb, had the former Eagles quarterback not been suspended and eventually fired after pleading guilty to a DUI offense.
“I’d seen the thing that happened with Donovan, but never thought for one second I’d be getting a call as a result of it,” said Davis, who was covering the U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship in Lancaster when he got the surprise call from FOX Sports executive producer John Entz offering him the spot.
Davis said the best advice about making the jump from college to the NFL came from Kevin Harlan, the longtime NFL and NBA play-by-play announcer whom Davis considers a friend and mentor.
“One thing that he said that really stuck with me was your college football audience is really invested in the players. They love to hear as much information about them as possible — they want you to take the helmet off of them,” Davis said. “But in the NFL, it’s more about ‘what’s my fantasy score? and ‘am I up or down on my bet?’ So you’ve got to use those stories more as a dagger… get in with the story, get out.”
Davis spent two seasons alongside his former Big Ten Network partner Thom Brennaman calling the network’s regional NFL games until 2017, when former safety John Lynch — then the analyst in FOX’s No. 2 booth — took the general manager job with the San Francisco 49ers.
FOX promoted Davis to fill Lynch’s spot alongside Burkhardt, and also hired former Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to make the team a three-man booth. But Cutler quickly backtracked and returned to football.
“I was lucky enough to stay in that spot next to Kevin and with Pam, and I’m still here. That’s the best way to put it,” Davis said. “I’m still here and hope to be here for as long as they’ll have me.”
Unlike most NFL analysts — on television or on the radio — Davis never spent time in the league as a player or coach. Instead, he clawed his way up the broadcasting food chain from being a morning radio show host in Florida to calling Arena League Football games for NBC before being hired by FOX as a college football analyst in 2007. He’s also been a regular part of the NFL Network’s draft coverage for several years, and figures to land a larger role thanks to Mike Mayock’s decision to take the job as the general manager of the Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders.
“I’m an outlier. I guess you would say I’m an anomaly, and I hope to continue to be one,” Davis said.