The biggest NFL broadcasts have found themselves in a period of reshuffling. With Amazon getting the exclusive rights for Thursday Night Football and a number of the most prominent names in broadcasting seeing their contracts come up, there’s been plenty of movement and tons of speculation about who could be headed where.
The two biggest dominoes to fall in recent days are Troy Aikman’s reported move from Fox to ESPN, where he’ll sit in the booth for Monday Night Football, and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay turning down an offer that reportedly could have been worth $100 million from Amazon to join its team on Thursdays. The Aikman news, in particular, is huge, as he was viewed as a potential name for Amazon and leaves a gigantic hole in Fox’s top broadcast team.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, the possibility exists for Fox to have to replace its entire booth due to both of its members hopping to the Worldwide Leader. Marchand reported that ESPN hopes to get Aikman and longtime partner Joe Buck on its Monday Night Football broadcasts, with NBC’s Al Michaels mentioned as a potential backup plan.
Aikman left for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” for $90-plus million over five. Aikman could be followed by his longtime Fox partner, Joe Buck. ESPN wants to reunite the duo, while Fox hopes to keep Buck.
If ESPN doesn’t land Buck, it likely will turn its attention to Michaels as Aikman’s potential partner.
ESPN has done a whole lot of tinkering in its Monday booth in recent years, particularly since Mike Tirico left for NBC in 2015 and Jon Gruden left to become the head coach of the Raiders at the end of the 2017 season. Since then, Sean McDonough, Joe Tessitore, and Steve Levy have all taken over play-by-play duties, with Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Louis Riddick, and Brian Griese all serving as analysts. The constant amid all of this has been sideline reporter Lisa Salters.
As for whether or not ESPN can land either of Buck or Michaels, well, that’s another story. Buck has been a stalwart at Fox for decades, and while he’s their top NFL broadcaster, that is hardly the only sport he calls. He’s their lead play-by-play man for baseball, has done World Series games for decades, and has been one of the first calls the company makes when it wants to bring a level of clout to any sports-related thing it puts on television. Michaels, meanwhile, was the voice of Monday Night Football for 20 years and wore a number of other hats for the network, but has been viewed as the longtime favorite to head to Amazon — Marchand reports that Michaels is “on the 1 yard line” to joining the network, but his desire is “to know who his analysts would be.”