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Joe Buck Reportedly Leaving Fox for ESPN and ‘Monday Night Football’

Buck’s deal will reportedly be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million.

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Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will remain together in the broadcast booth. And ESPN has their play-by-play man for Monday Night Football.

The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Fox allowed Buck to enter contract talks with ESPN, and Buck is expected to sign a deal to call MNF. Fox could have prevented Buck from talking to ESPN, but apparently the network decided to let him pursue a larger deal as a “thank you for your service” gesture. He’s been with Fox since 1994.

Buck had one year remaining on his deal with Fox for a reported $11 million, so it’s reasonable to presume that he’ll get a raise at ESPN in addition to a multi-year agreement. According to Marchand, Buck’s deal will be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million. So at least a $1 million annual raise, but possibly up to $4 million.

Aikman has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $92.5 million contract to be the analyst in the MNF booth. The $18.5 million annual salary surpasses what Tony Romo earns with CBS in the 10-year contract that he signed two years ago. That deal will likely be officially announced once Buck is inked to a deal and ESPN can introduce its new Monday Night Football team together.

After he left Fox for ESPN, Aikman made it clear that he would like to continue working with Buck, with whom he worked for 20 years on the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. That seemed unlikely with Buck still under contract, but ESPN obviously had a lucrative offer and Aikman has indicated that Fox is only willing to pay so much to keep its talent.

The question now becomes who replaces Buck and Aikman at Fox. And where will Al Michaels go? With Fox, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are expected to move up to the No. 1 booth, but the network might want to do something splashier now. Could that involve Michaels? Or is he now all but assured to go to Amazon, which has been rumored for months? (The possibility of Michaels calling the NFL and returning to baseball at Fox is extremely intriguing.)

Will Buck only call Monday Night Football for ESPN? He was Fox’s top play-by-play broadcaster for Major League Baseball, calling showcase events like the MLB All-Star Game and the World Series (which he’s broadcasted for 24 seasons). It’s unlikely he would call Sunday Night Baseball, especially during NFL season. But the network also just named Karl Ravech as SNB‘s play-by-play announcer with analysts David Cone and Eduardo Perez.

With Buck previously expressing interest in branching out with a talk show at HBO, could there be a possibility of him doing something like a recurring interview or feature series? (The HBO show was canceled after only three episodes, and Buck has said it was a bad experience.)

Maybe Buck is content to just call Monday Night Football (especially if that’s all his ESPN deal calls for) while indulging his creative, playful side with his podcast, Daddy Issues, co-hosted with actor Oliver Hudson.

Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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