Pro Football Hall of Famer and 1989 No.1 overall pick Troy Aikman has been a staple in the Fox broadcast booth since he retired from the gridiron. Aikman retired from the NFL in 2000, after leading the Cowboys to three Super Bowls.
The former Oklahoma Sooners and UCLA Bruins signal caller joined Fox as a color commentator in 2001. He was so impressive that the network made him a part of its lead announcing crew in 2002. He first teamed with Cris Collingsworth from (2002-04) and Joe Buck (2004-21).
Woah. I've been listening to Buck/Aikman on Fox as long as I can remember. End of an era. https://t.co/aUw3mn64ln
— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) February 24, 2022
While Aikman has been pretty mum on negotiations with Fox and others, on a recent radio appearance on KTCK, the six-time Pro Bowler announced he’d be joining the Entertainment Sports Network (ESPN). The deal is reportedly a $90 million mega-deal as reported by Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Aikman will now be the lead play-by-play man on “Monday Night Football.”
Troy Aikman nearing deal to join ESPN as lead analyst on 'Monday Night Football': Sources
— Daniel Kaplan (@KaplanSportsBiz) February 24, 2022
While the money was hard to pass up, Aikman also said he left because Fox never made a counteroffer.
“Fox never jumped into the game. They stayed where they were and never made an offer. In fact, I didn’t have any conversation with Fox until I got a call to congratulate me on my new deal. It’s a strange set of circumstances that led me, I guess, to the point where I’m at now. And to not be back at Fox, which I envisioned six months ago. And so it’s kind of strange how negotiations went six months ago. And then we couldn’t reach what I felt was fair value, I was able to negotiate an opt-out after six months and that allowed me to be a free agent if you will.”
Troy Aikman “On Verge” Of Leaving Fox For ESPN’s Monday Night Football Broadcasthttps://t.co/TU3XqlhUit
— SideAction (@SideActionHQ) February 24, 2022
Aikman and Fox enjoyed a successful 21-year run, and both acknowledged that. In basic terms, nothing lasts forever, but the belief Aikman was hoping so.
“That was a decision that they made, and it’s fine. I had 21 great years with Fox.”
Aikman’s Megadeal Puts Him On Par With Tony Romo Of CBS: Was He Chasing Paper?
With the new deal at ESPN, Aikman is now on par with CBS’s Tony Romo, who signed a 10-year $180 million contract, which he agreed to in December. The deal is the largest in sportscasting history. Aikman’s deal with Fox was renegotiated prior to the 2021 season, at four years and $13.2 million per year. Part of the deal was the aforementioned opt-out that allowed him to leave if he was offered a better deal with another network.
Some believe Aikman was chasing the bag, but he was quick to rebut that particular notion.
“Some will look at it and say, Troy ultimately went where the money led him, which is not true. Initially my plan was to stay at Fox, but as I said, that was a decision they made and I went a different route.”
MNF Has Had Constant Turnover For A Few Years: Aikman Should Bring Stability
Since 2017, when Jon Gruden left to become the head coach of the then-Oakland Raiders, the MNF broadcast booth has been anything but stable. Now with Aikman in tow, many believe ESPN will look to pair him with the legendary Al Michaels, who may leave NBC. Or they could wait a year and see about Aikman’s partner of 18 years at Fox, Joe Buck, whose contract expires next season. But with Aikman leaving, one would have to believe Fox will pay Buck whatever he wants, as there’s no way they want to lose their entire top team in back-to-back years.
During Aikman’s time with Fox, he called six Super Bowls and with the networks alternating years, he’ll have opportunities to call more for ESPN/ABC.