Sports TV News
Troy Aikman Reportedly Close to Joining ESPN, ‘Monday Night Football’
Will ESPN get Al Michaels to join Aikman in a revamped MNF booth?
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.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sports TV News
Mike Breen: My Dream Was to Be a DJ at WPLJ
“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’”
These days, WPLJ in New York City is a Christian station owned by the Educational Media Foundation. When Mike Breen was a kid in Yonkers though, it was one of the most influential rock stations in America and the man who is now known as the voice of the NBA wanted to be on the air there.
On the latest edition of Dan Le Batard’s South Beach Sessions podcast, Breen revealed that he always loved sports. His first introduction to broadcasting though came from a neighbor named Tony Minecola. He was a few years older than Breen and studying to be a radio broadcaster in college.
“He built a radio station in his basement and played disc jockey,” Breen told Le Batard. “’He had commercials, records, you know, everything. Like it was a real radio station, only it only went from one room to the next. That was what he was into, and that’s what he was going to college for. And we used to hang out in the basement all the time. And one day he says, ‘Hey, why don’t you come in? You want to you want to be the DJ for a little bit?’ And I’m like, okay, let me try it.’ And I fell in love with it.”
Mike Breen didn’t just fall in love with the idea of radio. He saw it as a viable career and knew exactly where he wanted it to take him.
“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’ WPLJ was like the big rock station in New York back at that time, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be a DJ on WPLJ.’ That was my first goal.
Through the 70s and early 80s, WPLJ was an album rock station. Some of its most iconic on air personalities included Carol Miller, Pat St. John, Fr. Bill Ayers, and Mark Goodman, who was eventually one of MTV’s original VJs.
Breen said he loved the rock music of the time, especially Jethro Tull and Bruce Springsteen, but he realized that a broadcasting career could keep him close to sports too.
Obviously, he chose well. That is not to say that he couldn’t have been a great DJ if given the chance, but he went on to be the voice of the New York Knicks and has called more NBA Finals games than anyone else in history.
WPLJ was out of the rock business by 1983 when it became a pop station.
Sports TV News
New Episodes of Beyond Limits Coming to CBS Sports
The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi.
CBS Sports is set to premiere new episodes of its franchise Beyond Limits, which celebrates athletes who go beyond the implicit boundaries of sports and society. Three half-hour episodes will be hosted by CBS Sports reporter AJ Ross, and will also air on CBS’ linear channel and stream live on Paramount+.
The first episode of the season is titled “Who I Am,” and it will feature Byron Perkins, who is the first openly gay football player at a historically black college or university (HBCU). Perkins is a redshirt senior at Hampton University. The show will also discuss the relationship he has with his mother and how she has impacted him both as a person and an athlete.
Two more episodes will premiere throughout the season – one on making sports adaptable and accessible; and the other featuring athletes who have moved into executive roles. The latter show includes interviews with NBA Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars; New Orleans Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development, Swin Cash; and NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent.
The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi. Its first episode premieres on Sunday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. EST/10:30 a.m. PST, and should provide fans with unique storytelling and spotlight into the journeys of various key figures in sports and media alike.
Sports TV News
ESPN Colleagues Pay Tribute to Neil Everett
“It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett.”
Neil Everett has become one of the faces of SportsCenter. After 23 years at ESPN, he announced that he is leaving the network.
Colleagues at the World Wide Leader took to Twitter to share their thoughts. It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett. Chief among them was his SportsCenter partner of fourteen years, Stan Verrett.
If Root Sports Northwest requires references, there are plenty ESPN colleagues past and present that were immediately ready to vouch for Neil Everett.
Everett was not laid off. He turned down a new contract that would have forced him to take a pay cut.
The Walt Disney Company is in the middle of layoffs effecting every division. CEO Bob Iger has tasked his leaders with reducing costs by $5.5 billion and cutting 7000 jobs.