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Jim Miller: ESPN, FOX ‘Horse Trading’ Over Joe Buck

“Miller emphasized that he does not know for certain that the two networks are in negotiations. He said both sides would be foolish not to be.”

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Very few people outside of Bristol are as plugged in behind the scenes of ESPN as Jim Miller, author of the network retrospective Those Guys Have All the Fun. On a recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, he told Jimmy Traina that he thinks ESPN and FOX are discussing how to make it work for Joe Buck to join Troy Aikman in the Monday Night Football booth.

He recalled Disney and NBC negotiating over Oswald the Lucky Rabbit more than a decade ago when Al Michales wanted to follow John Madden to Sunday Night Football on NBC. There are no cartoon characters involved in the current negotiations according to Miller. He described it as “some real horse trading”.

“I mean, look, does Fox want to keep Joe if Joe’s going to be unhappy? No. But do they want to be able to monetize this in myriad ways in order to really get some flesh out of ESPN? Absolutely,” Jim Miller said. “And what might that mean? You know, if I’m Fox, I might ask for two or three Big Ten games. You can be as outrageous and greedy and audacious as you can in this situation because at the end of the day, look, it’s ‘Joe does a great job, and we don’t want to get rid of him. If you guys want to have both of those guys together, then you’re going to have to pay.’”

Miller emphasized that he does not know for certain that the two networks are in negotiations. He said both sides would be foolish not to be. When Traina asked if Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would be ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew in 2023, Miller said “I can’t imagine it not being.”

It would be interesting if it is something like Big Ten games involved in negotiations. It would be a very short-term payoff for FOX, as the conference’s media rights are set to hit the open market very soon and are expected to fetch as much as $1 billion per year.

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Jason Whitlock: Ryan Clark Wanted More Than Mina Kimes

“The whole thing was about getting more than Mina Kimes. I wish he had the heart to just say that rather all the other performative stuff.”

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Jason Whitlock

One former ESPNer is alleging one of its talents wanted to make sure his new deal paid him more than a colleague. According to Jason Whitlock on X, Ryan Clark’s recent social media activity was all about securing a contract that was worth more than NFL analyst Mina Kimes’ deal:

For the uninitiated, Ryan Clark posted a lengthy video to his social media pages discussing the uncertainty of his future with ESPN, saying that his last deal with ESPN “wasn’t what he wanted” and that he “felt played.” This time around, he vowed things would be different, saying that he would, “leave no doubt that there was nobody in the world that was like [Clark].” That manifested in a new deal with ESPN, totaling over $2 million per year according to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, making him one of the highest-paid analysts at ESPN.

For what it’s worth, Kimes signed a deal in Sept. that pays her $1.7 million annually, meaning that Clark did wind up getting more than Kimes. However, it’s unknown if Kimes’ contract specifically was a sticking point for Clark or if he just simply wanted to be a top-X paid analyst within the company.

Outside of contributing to ESPN’s football coverage on NFL Live, he makes appearances on ESPN’s other shows, like First Take, Get Up, SportsCenter, and more. He is also the host of The CW’s Inside the NFL, a role that Clark admitted was something different. He also previously hosted an MMA show alongside former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier before it was revealed that “DC” would now host a new show alongside fellow UFC alum Chael Sonnen.

As part of Clark’s video, he mentioned his energy being finite, which may have led to his MMA show and other responsibilities going by the wayside as part of this new deal, but there has been no official word as to whether that’s the case or not.

“What I realized is, you only got so much to give, and all you can give is all the energy that God gives you,” Clark said. “And I did that, but I also learned that you run out. And at some point, you don’t have nothing left. I’d do whatever it took to get what I want, and that I’d work harder and longer now to work less and make more then. And I felt like I put myself in that spot.”

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Ryan Clark Reportedly Returning to ESPN

This past season, Clark appeared on a variety of programming centered around the National Football League, including NFL Live and Monday Night Countdown.

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Ryan Clark
Courtesy: Allen Kee, ESPN Images

ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark has reached a verbal agreement to remain at ESPN, extending his time at the network. This past season, Clark appeared on a variety of programming centered around the National Football League, including NFL Live and Monday Night Countdown. News of Clark deciding to remain at ESPN was first reported by Andrew Marchand of The Athletic. Additionally, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports has reported that the deal will pay him over $2 million per year. ESPN confirmed the news on Monday afternoon, stating that he would continue his role across network programming.

Just days after the Super Bowl, Clark outlined how he wanted to prove his worth and leave no doubt the last time he signed an extension with ESPN three years ago. At the time, he felt he was worth more than what he received and set out to end the conversations about who he was in the sports media business. Although Clark’s contract expired before Super Bowl LVIII, he and the network agreed to extend it through the conclusion of the championship matchup.

During the NFL postseason, ESPN studio programming garnered multi-year peaks in viewership. Editions of NFL Live averaged 486,000 viewers over 14 programs between Jan. 9 and Jan. 26, rendering it the most-watched playoff run of the program in nine seasons. The Postseason NFL Countdown show featuring the Monday Night Countdown cast averaged 4.7 million viewers on ESPN and ABC ahead of the network’s broadcast of the divisional round matchup between the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, Jan. 20.

Outside of his role at ESPN, Clark recently completed his first year hosting Inside the NFL on The CW. The Emmy award-winning weekly series moved to the network after it was dropped by Paramount+ last April and featured a new cast starring Jay Cutler, Chad Johnson, Chris Long and Channing Crowder. He and Crowder work alongside Fred Taylor on The Pivot podcast, an independent venture outside of ESPN. Clark balanced these roles with his ESPN obligations, which has also included appearances on programming such as Get Up, First Take and SportsCenter.

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ESPN Hires Jorge Castillo to Cover Yankees & Mets

“As someone who grew up consuming everything ESPN, this opportunity is truly a dream come true for me. I’m honored to join such a great baseball crew…”

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Jorge Ramos ESPN Beat Writer

Longtime Los Angeles Times writer Jorge Castillo will switch coasts and cover the New York Mets and Yankees for ESPN. The company announced the news earlier today, sharing that Castillo’s assignments will begin on ESPN.com today.

“As someone who grew up consuming everything ESPN, this opportunity is truly a dream come true for me,” Castillo said. “I’m honored to join such a great baseball crew and excited to work with so many talented people.”

According to ESPN, Castillo will, “contribute news, analysis, storytelling, and live event coverage on the Yankees and Mets, with additional national MLB coverage throughout the season and postseason. He will also contribute on TV and radio.”

Castillo is no stranger to the area, though — he previously covered baseball for the New York Times and the Star-Ledger in New Jersey. Now, he returns to cover the local clubs for the Worldwide Leader.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jorge to ESPN’s baseball team. He’s covered some of baseball’s biggest franchises in some of its toughest markets, and we expect nothing less from him in New York,” said Rachel Ullrich, ESPN Deputy Editor for ESPN.com. “We can’t wait to add his incredible reporting, thoughtful analysis, and creative storytelling to our talented team.”

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