Monday Night Football finally has the announcing duo they’ve been searching for, coming at the expense of Fox.
In February, the New York Post reported that Hall of Fame quarterback and NFL announcer of 21 years, Troy Aikmen, would be leaving Fox in order to call Monday Night Football on ESPN. It was a massive get by ESPN, struggling for years to find anyone near Aikmen’s level to call what is supposed to be the game of the week.
In an interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, Aikmen discussed the move, saying that Fox “never jumped into the game” once ESPN came calling.
“It is a strange set of circumstances that led me to the point where I’m at now, and to not be back at Fox,” Aikman told The Ticket. “Which I never would have envisioned that happening six months ago, and so it’s kind of strange how negotiations went six months ago. When we couldn’t really reach what I felt was a fair value, I was able to negotiate an opt-out after six months, and that’s what allowed me to be a free-agent, if you will.”
“Then Fox never jumped into the game,” Aikman continued. “They stayed where they were and never made an offer. In fact, I didn’t have any conversations with Fox until I got a call to congratulate me on my new deal. So that was a decision that they made, and it’s fine.”
The decision inevitably led to the question of who would be calling the play-by-play next to him on Monday nights. As it turns out, Aikmen’s sidekick of 20 years — Joe Buck — will be joining him in a move that shakes up the sports media landscape.
“I don’t know. They have their reasons and they have their business that they’re running, and Troy had an out and he had a chance to go out on the market and see what he [could] get,” Buck told Sports Illustrated when asked why Fox allowed him to leave. “But I think all along, his No. 1 choice was to go back to Fox, and that’s what I was hoping for and that didn’t materialize.”
Buck was under contract at Fox for one more year, but as reported by the Post, Fox allowed Buck to explore his options once Aikmen left as a “gesture for his years of service to the company.”
Buck told SI that when Aikmen made the move to ESPN, he began to think about making a move once his contract with Fox came to an end.
“It leaned more that way,” Buck told SI. “I think at this point, I wanted a known quantity next to me. I think this business is more intense. As I’m coming up on 30 years in it, it’s more intense now than it’s ever been. With the amount of scrutiny that’s out there, I felt like we have a good thing. I know where he’s going. He knows where I’m going. If it was at all possible, I wanted to try to continue that. I don’t care about—we’re one year shy of tying [John] Madden and [Pat] Summerall—and all that. It’s just about two guys who enjoy working with each other and feel comfortable. That’s this business.”
“When I started at Fox and I was working with Tim Green or, after him, Brian Baldinger or Bill Maas or anybody … you’re only as good as the guy or gal standing next to you,” he continued. “If it’s not working for that person, it’s not working for the broadcast. Once he was gone altogether, my next thought was once I knew they had interest in bringing me over there, trying to make that happen.”
As was the case with Aikmen’s departure, Buck told Sports Illustrated that there were no hard feelings associated with the move, saying that he was “grateful” with how the relationship came to an end.
While the move is wonderful news for football fans everywhere, Major League Baseball has now lost one of its more historic voices.
Buck told Sports Illustrated that there isn’t a plan for him to call MLB games for ESPN.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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