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Jason Witten Officially Joins ESPN

Brandon Contes

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ESPN finally has their replacement for Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football. After courting Peyton Manning earlier this off-season, amid months of speculation as to who will join the telecast, future Hall-of-Fame tight-end Jason Witten has officially agreed to retire from the NFL and head to ESPN.

For the second straight season a prominent Dallas Cowboy will go directly from the field to the broadcast booth after quarterback Tony Romo made the jump to CBS last year. The news was first reported by Mike Greenberg on his morning television show Get Up. “It is now official. Jason Witten is retiring from the Dallas Cowboys and coming to work with us,” Greenberg said. “He will join ESPN as an analyst for Monday Night Football.”

Just a few weeks ago, Witten calmed the reports he could be leaving the Cowboys by expressing a desire to continue playing for a few more years. “There’s been a lot of things said over the years, especially the last few months,” Witten told Clarence Hill of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I guess that’s what happens when you get old. Maybe one day that will happen, but hopefully I can play until I’m 40 like some of these other guys. I’ll take it one day at a time. My plan is to be here with the Cowboys. Absolutely.”

While Witten could certainly play one or two more seasons in the NFL and expect a broadcast job to be available to him whenever he retires, he can’t count on an opportunity as high-profile as the Monday Night Football gig to wait for him.

During the off-season, Witten reworked his contract with the Cowboys, agreeing to a 4-year extension, but also taking an annual paycut, providing the team with more cap space. With reports of ESPN offering between $4 and $4.5 million to Witten, the former All-Pro tight end will earn more than double what he would’ve been paid by the Cowboys for the upcoming NFL season.

Witten was still a serviceable tight-end, but when an aging NFL player is presented with a more lucrative opportunity to join broadcasting, it’s hard to see them turning that down. Witten will step away from the football field healthy and on his own terms, joining play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore for ESPN’s coverage of Monday Night Football.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Sports TV News

Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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