Troy Aikman’s spinning wheel of offseason fortune will reportedly stop with a new home for the broadcaster, but not the one most sports media observers have expected.
According to the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, Aikman is close to signing a deal with ESPN to be the top analyst for Monday Night Football. Marchand describes the two sides as “deep in negotiations” to the point where a deal is expected to be completed.
The exact terms of Aikman’s deal with ESPN haven’t yet been revealed, but Marchand said on Twitter that it would be a five-year agreement. The average annual salary is expected to rival the $18 million per year that Tony Romo earns in the 10-year, $180 million contract he signed with CBS two years ago.
Aikman reportedly earned $8 million this past season with Fox. (Marchand reports that he would earn $13.5 million annually over the next four years if he stayed with Fox, but could opt out if he received a higher offer.)
Aikman reportedly on the verge of joining ESPN means that the network is blowing up the three-man booth of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick that’s called Monday Night Football for the past two seasons. Griese’s contract is up with ESPN and it’s doubtful that Riddick would be on the crew with Aikman. And Levy could be the play-by-play announcer, but wouldn’t the network want to pair a star analyst with an equally marquee partner?
Will ESPN get Al Michaels to join Aikman in a revamped MNF booth? The two were expected to be Amazon’s top choices for its upcoming exclusive Thursday Night Football package. But ESPN has reportedly showed interest in hiring Michaels with his NBC contract expiring after Super Bowl LVI, and the network is facing a possible overhaul of its NFL studio coverage as well.
Putting the potential money aside, Michaels may not find Amazon as appealing if he’s not partnered with Aikman. Would Kurt Warner be someone that could fill that role?
The belief is that he would prefer not to work with a first-time analyst like Sean Payton. Perhaps Michaels would put that aside if Amazon hired Sean McVay, but he’s expected to remain as coach of the Los Angeles Rams. Besides, ESPN appeared to be the network showing the most interest in McVay. Would Tom Brady also be an appealing option?
Aikman leaving Fox knocks down another set of dominoes as well. Who replaces him on Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team with Joe Buck? The network will broadcast two of the next three Super Bowls. The expectation is that rising star Greg Olsen will be bumped up to the top crew. But Fox may also want to make a splashy move with a big name like Payton. (McVay or Brady probably have to be considered in the mix as well.)
Marchand also raised one other moonshot-type move in his report: ESPN could make a run at Joe Buck, whose contract expires next year. Yet Buck also calls MLB broadcasts for the network, including the World Series and All-Star Game. Fox would presumably want to keep him and Buck doesn’t have the same kind of opt-out in his deal.
Warriors Fans Throw Objects At Charles Barkley On Inside the NBA Set
“Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.”
Charles Barkley is no stranger to being the object of fans’ ire. The cities of San Antonio and Cleveland have a history of being the butt of the Round Mound of Rebound’s jokes. Thursday night in San Francisco, fans of the Warriors took things to a different level, throwing objects at Barkley on the Inside the NBA set.
The TNT studio show was broadcasting live from outside the Chase Center. The crowd chanted “Chuck, you suck!” at Barkley before the game. After Golden State clinched a birth in the NBA Finals, things got physical.
Fans threw things at the set, including a rolled-up t-shirt, which hit Charles Barkley in the back of the head. That resulted in Barkley leaving his seat and bowing up to the audience.
“Come on Chuck!” Ernie Johnson pleaded as Kenny Smith repeatedly said “Sit down Chuck.”
Barkley yelled back at the crowd but never actually left the set.
Now that the Western Conference Finals are over, TNT’s NBA schedule has concluded. That doesn’t mean Charles Barkley won’t return to San Francisco for the NBA Finals, but it is highly unlikely given the reception he has received there.
Barkley spent most of the postseason telling Golden State fans they were annoying and need to shut up and saying the city of San Francisco has “dirty ass streets”.
Jon Miller To Call MLB Sunday Leadoff Game On Peacock
“According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict.”
Legendary play-by-play man Jon Miller will be returning to the national broadcast booth on Sunday. He will call the San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds game for Peacock. He’ll be joined in the booth by Barry Larkin and Shawn Estes.
According to a press release, Jason Benetti has a scheduling conflict. Benetti, the regular play-by-play voice of Peacock’s MLB Sunday Leadoff, is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox. NBC Sports Chicago has prioritized this weekend’s series between the White Sox and Cubs, making Benetti unavailable to the national broadcast.
Miller has been calling Giants games since 1997 and previously shared the Sunday Night Baseball booth on ESPN with hall of famer Joe Morgan.
The broadcast, called MLB Sunday Leadoff, will begin at 11 a.m. with pregame coverage hosted by Ahmed Fareed. The game broadcast begins at 11:30 a.m.
The game will take place in an exclusive two-hour broadcast window prior to the start of the rest of the league’s day of games.
Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast
“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’
First it was the Mannings. Now it’s McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.
No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.
Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.
McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast. However, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.
“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.”
In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.
There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.