Troy Aikman leaving for ESPN puts FOX in a bind
New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand reported Wednesday night that Troy Aikman was leaving FOX to sign a five-year contract with ESPN and Monday night football. Sources confirmed to SI that Aikman was indeed making the change.
It’s a huge blow for ESPN, which has been trying for many years to 1) stabilize its MNF booth and 2) find a booth that works.
We don’t yet know who Aikman’s play-by-play partner will be. But if ESPN wants to complete its transformation of the MNF booth, Al Michaels’ contract with NBC has expired and the network should move on from Michaels and make Mike Tirico the main voice of Sunday night football.
Currently, Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick make up ESPN’s MNF booth.
While ESPN picked up a massive win by nabbing Aikman, the most intriguing development now is that FOX finds itself without a #1 analyst to work alongside Joe Buck.
Merchant and I have actually speculated on all of this over the past week. IS Media Podcast And now here we are.
Buck and Aikman worked together for 20 years and developed a true friendship off the air. Many considered them the best crew in the game. Now Buck finds himself without a partner and the choices for a replacement seem slim.
Greg Olsen is currently FOX’s No. 2 analyst, but doesn’t seem quite ready to move into the top spot since he’s only been in the job for a season. Former Saints coach Sean Payton has reportedly been on FOX’s radar, but he’s unlikely to make the No. 1 team. Would FOX move its top college football analyst, Joel Klatt, to the NFL? Doubtful. They also wouldn’t move any of their guys from the pregame show, like Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long or Michael Strahan, to fill the void left by Aikman.
What complicates things even more for FOX is that they have the Super Bowl in 2023 and again in 2025. Whoever succeeds Aikman won’t get a grace period.
Although it’s very risky, if I follow FOX, I’m doing everything I can to get newly retired Tom Brady into broadcasting.
Sure, Brady has never called a game in his career, but he’s the greatest quarterback of all time. Moreover, he has shown since his departure from New England that he has an exceptional personality.
FOX needs to go big to replace Aikman. There is no one greater than Tom Brady.
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