Aikman set to leave Fox for ESPN ‘Monday Night’ booth | Sports News
By JOE REEDY, AP Sports Reporter
NFL free agency doesn’t begin for a few more weeks, but business is about to pick up when it comes to mixing up the network’s broadcast teams with perhaps the biggest surprise of all.
Troy Aikman is set to become the lead analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” after 22 years with Fox. The New York Post reported that Aikman will sign a five-year contract that would rival the $17.5 million a year Tony Romo earns at CBS.
ESPN and Fox had no comment on Aikman’s future.
Aikman has been with Joe Buck on Fox’s top team since 2002, but there have been rumors over the past two months that the Hall of Fame quarterback was looking to move on.
Many thought Aikman would join Al Michaels at Amazon, who will take over “Thursday Night Football” next season. Instead, it’s ESPN, which has its star quarterback after failing with Romo and Peyton Manning in recent seasons.
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro had tried for years to get Manning to join the “Monday Night Football” stand since he retired after the 2015 season. Pitaro’s patience paid off l he Manningcast starring Peyton and Eli Manning debuted to rave reviews last year. The 10-game ‘Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli’ package runs through 2024.
Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick have done the main run for the past two seasons. Michaels might take another look at ESPN now that he has Aikman.
Michaels was in line to be the play-by-play announcer when the “Monday Night” package moved from ABC to ESPN in 2006. He was traded to NBC after expressing interest in staying with producer John Madden. Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff. after choosing to go to “Sunday Night Football”.
The MNF stand has seen frequent changes since Mike Tirico left for NBC in 2016. Tirico was the play-by-play voice for 10 seasons (2006-15) and teamed with Jon Gruden for the last seven. Sean McDonough took over from Tirico for 2016 and 2017 and worked with Gruden.
After Gruden left to take over as Raiders coach and McDonough sought to return to college football, ESPN went with the three-way stand of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland in 2018. Witten had struggled as an analyst and decided to return to the playing field in 2019.
Levy, Griese and Riddick could also remain intact as the second “Monday Night” crew. ESPN/ABC will have 23 regular-season games when the league’s new broadcast contract begins.
ABC will also host Super Bowl 2027, marking its return to television of the NFL Championship Game for the first time since 2006.
Fox could move Greg Olsen to the top team or he could make a run against former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. If Olsen were promoted, he would follow the same path as Aikman – a year in the No. 2 team before moving up. Whoever succeeds Aikman will be an important pick for Fox as he has the 2023 and 2025 Super Bowls. Buck’s contract expires next year.
Tom Brady would be an intriguing prospect for any network, but the recently retired quarterback and seven-time Super Bowl winner hasn’t expressed interest in moving to the stand.
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay could also be a wild card for Fox or Amazon if he decides to retire.
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