“The Same Networks Doing Stories About The NFL’s Poor Hiring Practices … Appear To Have Their Own Race Issues Putting A Black Man On TV Talking NFL” | Rob Parker Calls Out Hypocrisy Of Major Networks

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The NFL broadcasting duo of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck will now be calling “Monday Night Football” on ESPN. Both men were signed to five year contracts totalling $165 million. For those doing the math at home, Aikman will make $18 million a year and Buck $15 million per. Veteran journalist Rob Parker sees some hypocrisy in a network like ESPN critiquing the NFL for its lack of minority head coaches, while they don’t have any Black analysts in primetime very high salaried positions.

“It’s an important issue,” Parker told The Shadow League. “The same networks doing stories about the NFL’s poor hiring practices for Black head coaches and front office people appear to have their own race issues putting a Black man on TV in a prime role talking about the NFL. Nobody will address this. I had to shed light on an obvious case of racism. There can be no other answer.”

ESPN did use Louis Riddick and Booger McFarland in analysts roles over the past few years, but apparently they didn’t generate the desired results.

Some of that is on Riddick and McFarland, but a lot of it is on ESPN. They failed to put recent MNF broadcast teams in positions to succeed. The other dirty secret is the games on MNF haven’t been great over the years due to the inability to flex games out later in the season. A problem ESPN and the NFL have rectified just in time for Buck and Aikman.

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But the critique from Parker — a former “First Take” co-host who was unceremoniously dumped by ESPN nine years ago amid a backlash over comments he made about Robert Griffin III — is fair. Why aren’t there any Black lead analysts on the major networks? CBS has Tony Romo. NBC has Cris Collinsworth. Fox will now likely elevate Greg Olson. Aikman is with ESPN, and Amazon will use ESPN’s college football lead analyst Kirk Herbstreit as the lead for “Thursday Night Football.”

“He never played in the NFL,” Parker said. “He’s Mr. College Football, and even in that spot, they gave it to somebody who didn’t even play in the league. … I know his résumé. I’m not saying he’s not qualified, but even that job, Chris! Even that job with Amazon went to another white guy.”

The lead NFL analyst position on a network is a coveted position, to be clear. But are there no qualified Black former players that can do that job?

“Other than OJ [Simpson] for those couple of years on ‘Monday Night Football’ in the ’80s, and I’m not ignoring him, and the cup of coffee and sweet roll that Louis Riddick got and Booger McFarland, other than that we’ve been shut out,” Parker said. “And I’m still waiting for them to pay a Black man $18 million to call 17 football games.”

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was the highest paid on-air talent at the worldwide leader until Aikman and Buck. But Smith hosts a daily show, does radio, and appears on “NBA Countdown” and other programs across the network. He grinds.

Not saying that what Aikman and Buck do isn’t hard. But there does seem to be a bit of a disparity.

Sports and sports broadcasting are just microcosms of the larger society. The lack of opportunity for Black people and people of color exists in all sectors in the larger world, so why should this be any different?

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As long as the people in charge view the world through a specific lens, their choices will reflect that world view. All the producers on these networks are white, they think about producing the game for an audience that is white. Aikman and Buck are household names that fit with the audience.

Could the audience relate to something different? Of course. But they’re rarely, if ever, given the chance.