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ESPN: Troy Aikman and Joe Buck Were ‘At The Top Of Our List’

“For me, they are simply the best team out there. Their chemistry, their love of the game and the high standard they set for themselves [is what] I think… makes them an incredible team.”

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As the start of the revamped Monday Night Football broadcasts on ESPN draws closer, the anticipation to get started is steadily growing as Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Lisa Salters – take the reins as the voices of Monday night.

“When we were white-boarding our ultimate booth shortly after the regular season, Troy and Joe were at the top of that list for all of us,” said ESPN Head of Event and Studio Production Stephanie Druley. “For me, they are simply the best team out there. Their chemistry, their love of the game and the high standard they set for themselves [is what] I think… makes them an incredible team.”

Buck and Aikman grew up watching Monday Night Football when Pat Summerall and John Madden brought fans the action, but viewed the game from very different perspectives. While Aikman was envisioning becoming a professional football player, Buck was striving to follow in his father Jack’s footsteps as a professional broadcaster. In fact, his father called the Monday night games with Hank Stram, albeit on the CBS Radio Network. Two doors down though, the team of Frank Gifford, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell was indicative of a media spectacle to Buck, and something he has always wanted to do.

Before landing the job as the new voice of Monday Night Football, Buck was the lead play-by-play announcer for Fox Sports on both its football and baseball broadcasts, getting the chance to call several Super Bowl and World Series games, along with other marquee matchups. In this new stage of his career, Buck figures to be an active member of ESPN and will appear across its programming and select ABC shows. He will be keeping the play-by-play to football, as he does not have a desire to return to calling baseball games but will instead focus on serving in a producer role for upcoming projects.

“I think I’m pretty good with just calling football [for] the rest of my life or the rest of my career,” Buck said, “which hopefully doesn’t turn into the rest of my life.”

ESPN was content with its previous Monday Night Football booth of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese, but considers Buck, Aikman and Salters to be an upgrade. In landing the booth it has, the network is eager to see the product come Week 1 and hopes it leads to the league scheduling even better matchups for the broadcast in the years to come.

“These guys deserve a certain level of game, and the expectation is that the league sees that as well and we will reap the benefit of that,” Druley said. “We have an incredible schedule this year, and I do think that the booth matters in the amount of quality you’re going to get.”

Being the only football game on television each week presents a unique opportunity for this broadcast to stand out among the others and continue to make it appointment viewing for football fans. Akin to how he took center stage as a Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, Aikman is ready to be in primetime with Buck, his longtime broadcast partner, to his left.

“To be at ESPN where it’s the only game on their network and the pride that they have in this property and what they are willing to do to make [it] a success and what it means in this portfolio of events is something that we’ve never experienced,” Aikman said. “….We’ve been with ESPN now for several months and we keep waiting. Now it’s finally here and it’s really exciting.”

The emphasis on just how special and revered these broadcasts are is hardly hyperbole, according to Buck, as he affirms it represents a preeminent broadcast property in the history of football broadcasts and live game broadcasts in general for that matter. Now as the opening broadcasts draws closer, Buck and his colleagues expect to bring fans a stellar product and when the moment they have been waiting for finally comes, it will symbolize the gravity and allure distinct to Monday Night Football.

“I think when that theme song hits, I’ll get chills,” Buck said. “….For people of a certain generation when you hear that theme song back in the day with the yellow jackets and the pomp and circumstance and the craziness that happens at Monday Night Football, it just has kind of always been something in my mind…. This is the pinnacle of being in any booth anywhere.”

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Pedro Martinez TV Career Only Thing He ‘Never Imagined’

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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