Troy Aikman reportedly leaving Fox and Joe Buck after 20 years
Aikman has called games on Fox for 20 years, nearly all alongside longtime broadcast partner Joe Buck.
Troy Aikman has called NFL games for Fox for 20 years, 19 alongside his longtime broadcast partner, Joe Buck. It’s the second-longest streak in NFL history, behind only Pat Summerall and John Madden.
But it looks like the NFL Hall of Famer and former Cowboys quarterback is breaking up the band and moving to ESPN, where he’ll become the new analyst for Monday Night Football.
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports a five-year deal, expected to approach the $17.5 million per year Tony Romo is being paid by CBS, is not yet signed but is near completion.
ESPN declined to comment.
The current Monday Night Football booth features play-by-play announcer Steve Levy and analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick. Griese’s contract expired at the end of the season, and Riddick — a Bucks County native and former Eagles front-office man — is being considered by the Pittsburgh Steelers to fill their vacant general manager position.
Most of the speculation surrounding Aikman’s future involved Amazon, which has the exclusive rights to stream 15 Thursday Night Football games next season on Amazon Prime. But those games will only stream to Prime subscribers and air on local TV, and will almost certainly draw a fraction of the tens of millions who tuned in to hear Aikman call a game in Fox’s late-Sunday afternoon window, something he admitted would factor into his decision.
“The challenge with Thursday night is it’s not a flex schedule. So what looks to be a good game when the schedule comes out all of a sudden it’s not a competitive game,” Aikman told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch last month on his Sports Media podcast. “You still do the work, you still go in and do the best job you can. But when you know that there’s not as much interest by the public, it’s not as much fun.”
Beginning in 2023, the NFL will be able to flex in and out of games on Monday Night Football, starting in Week 12.
Aikman’s move to ESPN would create a vacant spot for Fox in its No. 1 booth alongside Buck, who Marchand reports has one year left on his contract. The shuffle comes at an important time for Fox, which will air two of the next three Super Bowls. Former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was impressive in his first year as a full time analyst last season in Fox’s No. 2 booth, and could move up alongside Buck.
The other major question would be whom ESPN pairs with Aikman in the booth. They could stick with Levy, a longtime SportsCenter anchor who has called Monday Night Football games for the past two seasons.
ESPN could also make a run at longtime NBC announcer Al Michaels, whose contract expired after calling the Super Bowl. It’s been an open secret NBC is replacing Michaels on Sunday Night Football with Mike Tirico, but it had been expected that Michaels would join Amazon to call its Thursday Night Football games.
Either way, ESPN will need multiple broadcast teams, as the number of games they will broadcast will increase to 25 next season, up from 18. That will include a divisional round playoff game. The network will also reportedly air a simultaneous doubleheader early next season, with one game airing on ESPN and another on ABC, according to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand.
NBC is planning to pair Tirico with Cris Collinsworth next season on Sunday Night Football, but the former ESPN announcer who called Notre Dame football games for NBC said he hasn’t been told anything yet by network executives.
“I’ve done a decade of prime-time NFL. I’ve done 200 NFL games. It was part of the reason I came to NBC. So I would hope so at this point, right?” Tirico said to Deitsch on the most recent episode of his Sports Media podcast. “If I am the person that follows Al, that would be a lifetime opportunity for me … I’ve enjoyed doing five games each of the last two years with Cris (Collinsworth). That’s been a great experience for me as well.”