This time on the NFL calendar offers a rare lull; teams have wrapped up OTAs and Minicamp, now they all wait for that last week in July when the rubber hits the road for Training Camp. There’s rarely that kind of downtime for TV executives, especially those at NBC, ESPN, and Fox.
They are hard at work preparing for the fast-approaching season while also making sure they update their lists of potential stars still on the gridiron. The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch spoke with three power brokers at the NFL media partners to see what they are looking for in their next star in the booth or studio.
Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli had a list of eight names ready to throw at Deitsch, but one stood out above them all: Mike Tomlin.
“Tomlin, to me, he would be transformational,” Gaudelli said to Deitsch. “I mean, he’s got a language all of his own that everybody can understand. He’s got a really expressive personality. You’d want him in the studio so you could see him more, but I think he’d be equally good on a game. If you said to me you can take one guy out of the league right now, it’s not even a hard call. It’s Mike Tomlin.”
ESPN vice president Seth Markman keeps a similar list to Gaudelli’s. One former MVP player has stood out to him over the years, New England Patriots QB Cam Newton.
“He’s an interesting one,” Markman said in the article. “Great smile and oozes personality. I’m intrigued by him.”
Newton has already dipped his toes in the media waters. He has hosted a show for Nickelodeon and last year he launched his own digital show that saw the former MVP interviewing celebrities while enjoying cigars and wine.
Finally, Deitsch picked the brain of Fox Sports executive producer Brad Zager to see how he keeps track of interesting talent options. Zager likes to take a more overarching approach rather than keeping a specific list of names.
“We are constantly having conversations about active players,” Zager said to Deitsch. “A lot of them are no-brainers such as Super Bowl champion quarterbacks and future Hall of Famers. But the depth of the list mainly comes from conversations with all our production teams and talent throughout the year. Who shined in their production meetings? Who offered up more than the usual cliches when talking to them? Who is willing to help out with those extra nuggets of information that really help the broadcasters and production prepare?”
For more floated names from these executives, check out Deitsch’s piece on The Athletic.
Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football
“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years.
Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.
“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.
“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck.
Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys
The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.
Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.
But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:
Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.
Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”
Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.
The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.
Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.
“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”
Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”
He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.
Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.