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Joe Buck Reportedly Leaving Fox for ESPN and ‘Monday Night Football’

Buck’s deal will reportedly be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million.

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Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will remain together in the broadcast booth. And ESPN has their play-by-play man for Monday Night Football.

The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reports that Fox allowed Buck to enter contract talks with ESPN, and Buck is expected to sign a deal to call MNF. Fox could have prevented Buck from talking to ESPN, but apparently the network decided to let him pursue a larger deal as a “thank you for your service” gesture. He’s been with Fox since 1994.

Buck had one year remaining on his deal with Fox for a reported $11 million, so it’s reasonable to presume that he’ll get a raise at ESPN in addition to a multi-year agreement. According to Marchand, Buck’s deal will be for five years and could range from $60 million to $75 million. So at least a $1 million annual raise, but possibly up to $4 million.

Aikman has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $92.5 million contract to be the analyst in the MNF booth. The $18.5 million annual salary surpasses what Tony Romo earns with CBS in the 10-year contract that he signed two years ago. That deal will likely be officially announced once Buck is inked to a deal and ESPN can introduce its new Monday Night Football team together.

After he left Fox for ESPN, Aikman made it clear that he would like to continue working with Buck, with whom he worked for 20 years on the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. That seemed unlikely with Buck still under contract, but ESPN obviously had a lucrative offer and Aikman has indicated that Fox is only willing to pay so much to keep its talent.

The question now becomes who replaces Buck and Aikman at Fox. And where will Al Michaels go? With Fox, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are expected to move up to the No. 1 booth, but the network might want to do something splashier now. Could that involve Michaels? Or is he now all but assured to go to Amazon, which has been rumored for months? (The possibility of Michaels calling the NFL and returning to baseball at Fox is extremely intriguing.)

Will Buck only call Monday Night Football for ESPN? He was Fox’s top play-by-play broadcaster for Major League Baseball, calling showcase events like the MLB All-Star Game and the World Series (which he’s broadcasted for 24 seasons). It’s unlikely he would call Sunday Night Baseball, especially during NFL season. But the network also just named Karl Ravech as SNB‘s play-by-play announcer with analysts David Cone and Eduardo Perez.

With Buck previously expressing interest in branching out with a talk show at HBO, could there be a possibility of him doing something like a recurring interview or feature series? (The HBO show was canceled after only three episodes, and Buck has said it was a bad experience.)

Maybe Buck is content to just call Monday Night Football (especially if that’s all his ESPN deal calls for) while indulging his creative, playful side with his podcast, Daddy Issues, co-hosted with actor Oliver Hudson.

Sports TV News

Sean McManus: LIV Golfers Won’t Get Different Treatment During The Masters

“We’re not gonna put our heads in the sand.”

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CBS Sports is preparing for coverage of its 68th consecutive year of The Masters, but the 2023 event could prove to be unlike any before it, and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus is cognizant of the situation.

After several former Masters champions departed the PGA Tour for the upstart LIV Golf, many pondered what that meant for the sport’s major championships. The Masters decided to continue to allow the golfers who are now playing exclusively with the Saudi-backed league to compete for the green jacket. McManus shared that CBS will continue the showcase the golfers as it always has.

“We’re not gonna cover up or hide anything,” McManus said, as reported by Golf Digest. “As I’ve said so often, our job is to cover the golf tournament. We’re not gonna show any different treatment for the golfers who have played on the LIV tour than we do the other golfers. And if there’s a pertinent point or something that we need to, or we feel that we should bring up in our coverage on Saturday and Sunday, or on our other coverage throughout the week, you know, we’re not gonna put our heads in the sand.

“Having said that, unless it really affects the story that’s taking place on the golf course, we’re not gonna go out of our way to cover it. I’m not sure there’s anything that we could add to the story as it already exists. We’ll cover it as, as is suitable.”

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Sports TV News

NFL Owners Not Voting on Flex Scheduling For Thursday Night Football

“The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.”

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Thursday Night Football

Amazon will have to wait for flex scheduling. NFL owners decided to table a proposal that would allow the league to create more compelling matchups for Thursday Night Football later in the season.

That doesn’t mean flex scheduling won’t be a reality on Thursday nights this season. The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.

Earlier this week, Peter King of NBC Sports reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is pushing the idea. Coaches have been outspoken about how much they dislike it, complaining about managing injuries and the competitive disadvantage that would come with finding out you suddenly have a shorter week of preparation than expected. According to King, Goodell is trying to make Amazon happy after the first season of Thursday Night Football failed to deliver projected audience numbers for Prime Video.

League owners did take a step they hope will lead to fewer games between losing teams. Last season, teams could only be scheduled once for a Thursday night game. The owners decided to bump that limit up to twice per season.

Goodell defended the proposal against accusations that the league is prioritizing revenue over player safety. 

“We always look at the data with respect to injuries,” he told the media gathered at the league meetings. “That is what drove our decisions throughout the first 12 or so years of Thursday Night Football and how it’s evolved. I think the data was very clear: it doesn’t show a higher injury rate. But we recognize shorter weeks. We went through this with COVID, too.”

When the idea of flex scheduling is revisited in May, it will require the support of 24 team owners in order to become a reality. 

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Eric Shanks Got Approval From Alex Rodriguez Before FOX Hired Derek Jeter

“Why wouldn’t we reach out?”

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Derek Jeter is going to work a very limited schedule for FOX next season. Still, before he came on board, FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks wanted the support of Jeter’s former Yankees teammate and on-again/off-again friend Alex Rodriguez.

Andrew Marchand is reporting that Shanks reached out to ARod personally. Rodriguez gave his approval to the network.

“Why wouldn’t we reach out?” a Fox Sports spokesman said when The New York Post reached out for confirmation.

While Derek Jeter is now part of the FOX family, fans shouldn’t expect to see him every time baseball is on the network. He is only scheduled to work “marquee events”. This season, those include the London series, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.

He will be at the desk alongside Kevin Burkhardt, David Ortíz, and Rodriguez.

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