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Troy Aikman: NFL Popularity & Revenue Growing While Quality Declines

“It seems like all these decisions are made to increase revenue, which is great, but then it’s less time on the field for players, and then it’s less time here, and the product begins to erode a little bit.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Troy Aikman

ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Troy Aikman is happy the NFL is the ratings and revenue juggernaut it is, but he doesn’t hide the fact that down the line the quality of the game has diminished some.

In an interview with Jimmy Traina on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, Aikman spoke about some of the changes the league has implemented through the years, like the reduction of one preseason game to make room for a 17-game regular season and seven playoff teams in each conference, as well as an idea being floated around of having the AFC and NFC championship games played at neutral sites.

Aikman said the league needs to be careful about making decisions that might come across as prioritizing money making over making sure the play itself on the field is the best quality it can be.

“I will say, the NFL, they’re really good at making a lot of money. They’re really good at that,” Aikman said. “And I don’t begrudge them for that. I say good for them and the marketing of the NFL. And we watch the popularity of the sport and out of the top 100 shows, 80 something of them were NFL games this year. I love all that.”

“I just would like to see more emphasis on improving the product on the field,” he added. “I’d like to see that there’s some interest in that as well.”

Aikman did say he feels like the more constrictive the league is when it comes to allowing teams to practice and properly prepare for the season, the more the games themselves tend to suffer.

“It seems like all these decisions are made to increase revenue, which is great, but then it’s less time on the field for players, and then it’s less time here, and the product begins to erode a little bit, and I think we’ve got to be really, really careful about that and I’ve been saying that for a while,” he said.

“Football is the only sport that you can’t practice the way that you play it,” Aikman added. “All the other sports get to go practice and then go and play. In football you don’t and so we see the fundamentals of tackling aren’t what they once were.”

Without naming names, Aikman alluded to the fact that Amazon Prime’s maiden season airing Thursday Night Football featured some of the worst teams in the league in primetime and ended up having some of the worst games of the season played out on their air.

“There were games that we watched, and I won’t say what network most of them were on, and I had to ask myself, ‘Is this professional football?’” Aikman said. “There was some bad, bad football being played, and that’s not good.”

Amazon is paying the NFL around $1 billion a year for the rights to TNF.

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Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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Sports TV News

Lisa Salters Makes Monday Night Football History Completing 11th Season on Sideline

“Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Monday night’s Cowboys/Bucs wild card playoff game set a new milestone for ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

The network tweeted that Salters completed her 11th season in that role. That makes her the longest tenured reporter in Monday Night Football history.

Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.

“When I first got the call to do Monday Night Football, I would have never thought that 10 years later I would still be doing it,” Salters said last year in a video reminiscing on ten years on Monday Night Football. “I was at home and I got a phone call from my boss Vince Doria and he said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would be interested in being a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football‘, and I couldn’t believe what he just asked me.”

Salters is also featured on network coverage of the NBA, something she’s been doing since 2005.

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Sports TV News

No Conspiracy Behind ESPN Monday Night Playoff Game Selection

“The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN has only carried NFL playoff games on Monday night for two seasons but has been a part of wild card weekends dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.

With the exception of one season, a 4-seed versus 5-seed matchup has always been covered by the Monday Night Football broadcast team in that stretch of nine seasons. That continued with Cowboys/Bucs this year.

In 2021-22, with the NFL expanding the playoff field to seven teams, the first Monday night playoff game was played. The Rams cruised past the Cardinals 34-11.

Last week, the decision was the source of much speculation. TV executives shared a number of theories about why ESPN landed the game that had the most star power in the Super Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post wrote that no speculation was necessary. The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience. The new format, the games that have a likelihood of altering seeding for the divisional rounds have already been played.

The 4/5 games this weekend proved to be pretty entertaining. The Jaguars rallied from down 27 to beat the Chargers. Al Michaels and Tony Dungy were ripped on social media for how they called a particularly exhilarating game for NBC. So it turns out Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would’ve called either one of the weekend’s best games.

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