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#pounditTuesday, December 1, 2020


This is why Tony Romo will not be calling NFL game this week

Tony Romo

Tony Romo is making significantly more money than any NFL analyst in history this season, but he is still getting a week off in the middle of the year.

Romo will not call a game for CBS on Sunday because his partner, Jim Nantz, will be covering the Masters. The Masters is typically in April and doesn’t interfere with the NFL schedule, but it was moved to November this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Richard Deitsch of The Athletic notes, CBS has decided to give Romo the week off rather than adding him to a different broadcast team.

Many compared the situation to when legendary play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall used to miss an NFL game to cover U.S. Open tennis years ago. His partner, John Madden, called NFL games alongside Jack Buck when that happened.

Romo is reportedly earning more than $17 million per year with CBS, which is a little less than $1 million per game if you include the playoffs. He’s quickly become one of the most popular broadcast analysts in history. NFL teams can at least be assured they won’t be crushed this weekend the way Romo ripped the Dallas Cowboys over one of their decisions in Sunday’s loss.

ESPN announces 300 layoffs, largest workforce reduction ever for company

ESPN logo

ESPN is trying to navigate amid uncertain circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the company announced on Thursday that it is laying off hundreds of employees.

In an internal memo obtained by Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro announced that 300 employees have been laid off. ESPN is also eliminating 200 job positions that were previously open, resulting in a reduced workforce of 500. That reduction is the largest in company history.

Here’s the full memo:

The layoffs are all impacting behind-the-scenes staffers, according to McCarthy.

There was also a chance ESPN was going to ask some of its top talent to take pay cuts, though it’s unclear if that has happened. The network lost another one of its top on-air personalities last month, as Keith Olbermann announced he was let out of his contract to launch a political show on YouTube.

Report: ESPN trying to buy ‘Sunday Night Football’ rights away from NBC

ESPN logo

“Sunday Night Football” could have a new television home if ESPN gets its way.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN and Disney are prepared to pay at least $1 billion to secure the rights to the NFL’s weekly Sunday night game. The network would likely place that game on ABC. The rights are currently held by NBC, which will compete to keep them.

There are multiple reasons ESPN wants to add a second NFL package in addition to “Monday Night Football.” The network wants a spot in the Super Bowl rotation, which it does not have currently. In addition, Disney executives have argued to the NFL that they pay $2 billion per year for the inferior Monday night schedule and no Super Bowl, while NBC’s Sunday night package gets them a Super Bowl broadcast and a better and more flexible schedule for just $950 million. It is important to note, however, that ESPN’s deal grants them a near-monopoly on NFL highlights.

If NBC were to lose the Sunday night game, they could still bid on Monday or Thursday games.

The current “Monday Night Football” deal runs through 2021, while the league’s other TV packages expire after the 2022 season. Renegotiations are already underway, and it looks like the cost for these packages is primed to go way up.

Joe Buck offers explanation for leaked military flyover video

Joe Buck

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were criticized earlier in the week after a leaked video clip appeared to show them mocking a military flyover prior to Sunday’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Green Bay Packers game, but Buck says the footage was taken entirely out of context.

The clip, which went viral on Monday (you can see it here), showed Buck and Aikman mocking the flyover for being a waste of tax dollars. Aikman was also heard saying the flyover, which was over a nearly empty stadium, would not have happened if Joe Biden were in office. According to Buck, the two broadcasters were being completely sarcastic.

Buck spoke about the video clip on his “Daddy Issues” podcast with co-host Oliver Hudson. He said he and Aikman were mocking a member of the FOX crew who made political remarks at a dinner the night before.

“This person happens to be very far left and said, ‘Well, under Biden-Harris, you know that’s not going to happen,’ and Troy was repeating that watching the flyover,” Buck explained, as transcribed by Mollie Walker of the New York Post.

“So they clipped that as if he’s saying that and as if he’s a Harris-Biden fan. But he’s repeating something that somebody said the night before, which is unbelievable. If you know Troy at all, he was being 100 percent sarcastic. Repeating for the person in the truck to hear, like ‘Ha, ha, ha.’”

Buck said he was also poking fun at the unnamed crew member.

“And then I go into a 1950s voice, like, ‘There’s your hard-earned tax dollars at work,’ or whatever … Then run a headline that Troy Aikman and Joe Buck bash flyovers, which it had nothing to do with any of that. It was a political conversation amongst our group that somebody clipped and sold for the exact reason that we’re doing this. And it stirs people up. And words get weaponized. And then people have to weigh in. ‘Oh, well, screw those guys. They don’t like the military.’ WHAT?!”

Buck went on to explain that he is very pro-military and that both his father and grandfather were in the service. His father, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck, was awarded a Purple Heart after being shot during World War II.

The clip that was leaked was recorded during a pregame rehearsal, and Buck says it wasn’t even FOX footage. Aikman addressed the comments with a lengthy tweet this week, but Buck’s explanation answered more questions.

Troy Aikman addresses hot mic comments about pregame military flyover

Troy Aikman

Troy Aikman on Tuesday addressed his comments about a pregame military flyover that were caught by a hot mic.

Aikman and FOX play-by-play announcer Joe Buck, who form FOX’s No. 1 NFL announcing team, were heard mocking the pregame military flyover ahead of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Green Bay Packers game on Sunday (video here).

Aikman went on Twitter Tuesday to try and clear things up.

“I love a flyover but it was odd to see one over a mostly empty stadium but I am an unwavering patriot that loves this country, has always respected our flag, supported the men and women in the armed forces as well as those in uniform who serve & protect and for anyone to suggest otherwise doesn’t know me, my beliefs or what I have stood for my entire life,” Aikman wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

Pregame military flyovers have been a tradition before many sports events, regardless of what political party occupied the office of the presidency in the United States. That’s why many people seemed to object to Aikman turning things political by saying a pregame flyover wouldn’t happen under the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris regime.

Aikman omitted in his statement the part that bothered many, which was him connecting things to the current presidential race.

Craig Carton will reportedly sign deal to return to WFAN

Craig Carton

Craig Carton was released from federal prison back in June, and the longtime radio host is getting his job back — sort of.

Carton is expected to sign a new deal with WFAN this week, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports. He will not return to his morning drive spot alongside Boomer Esiason, however.

WFAN is hoping to begin an afternoon program with Carton next month. The leading internal candidate to host the show with him is Evan Roberts, who currently hosts the afternoon show with Joe Benigno. Benigno is expected to retire as a full-time host.

The preferred plan for WFAN was reportedly to pair Carton with another ex-athlete to recreate the dynamic he had with Esiason for a decade. Former Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon was one candidate, but he is currently in the middle of a multi-year contract with Barstool Sports.

Carton, 51, was convicted of running a fraudulent ticket scam that netted nearly $5 million. He was sentenced to 42 months in prison but served only a year of the sentence. He will need to repay the $5 million to debtors.

Carton and Esiason hosted the popular “Boomer & Carton” morning show from 2007-2017. The show consistently led in ratings, but Esiason and partner Gregg Giannotti have kept WFAN as the leader in ratings with their morning show as well.

This is why Andrew Siciliano is not doing ‘Red Zone Channel’ today

Andrew Siciliano

Those who tuned into DIRECTV’s “Red Zone Channel” on Sunday may have been stunned to see someone other than Andrew Siciliano narrating all of the day’s action. No we know why he was absent.

Siciliano took to Twitter just before the start of the early games to reveal that he tested positive for COVID-19. It sounds like the test may have been a false positive, as Siciliano said he tested negative twice before the positive test and one time after it. Still, he decided to play it safe and stay home.

Siciliano has not missed a day at the “Red Zone Channel” since it first launched back in 2004. He assured fans that he is feeling great and will be back as soon as possible.

Dan Hellie filled in for Siciliano.

This is why Joe Buck is not calling Game 7 between Dodgers-Braves

Joe Buck

The Los Angeles Dodgers forced a Game 7 in the NLCS with a win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday. Fans have grown accustomed to hearing Joe Buck call huge games on FOX, but that will not be the case for Game 7 of the NLCS this year.

With sports calendars clashing more than ever this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Buck has a responsibility in the NFL on Sunday. He will call FOX’s game between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Joe Davis, who calls Dodgers games for FOX, will fill in for Buck.

One thing is for sure — Buck is going to earn his paycheck from FOX this week. If you include the previous NLCS games he called, Buck is calling games in 10 straight days.

Buck was recently inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he had a priceless reaction on live TV. His body of work in the month of October is certainly that of a Hall of Famer.

Aaron Rodgers not a big fan of ‘Monday Night Football’ commentary

Aaron Rodgers

ESPN has not exactly drawn rave reviews for its “Monday Night Football” broadcast since Jon Gruden returned to coaching, and apparently fans aren’t the only ones who have been disappointed with the commentary.

During his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Aaron Rodgers was asked for his thoughts on Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints. He took the opportunity to mention how he watched the game with the sound off, which he says he has done with most games carried by ESPN over the last few years.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of that. It was on for a little bit with the sound off, which is how I’ve watched a lot of games on ESPN over the last few years,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers was then asked if he has issues with everybody at ESPN or just certain people, and he mentioned how Kenny Mayne is “one of my all-time favorites.” He added that he enjoys watching football but prefers to listen to music during the games rather than taking in the commentary.

ESPN has tried desperately to improve its “Monday Night Football” crew since Gruden left, but they were turned down by several huge names. This year’s trio of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick is certainly an improvement over Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland, but it still leaves plenty to be desired.

Of course, Rodgers has been open in recent years about how much he dislikes the media. It’s no surprise he listens to games with the sound off.

Vaughn McClure receives tributes after news of his death

Vaughn McClure

Vaughn McClure, an NFL writer for ESPN’s NFL Nation, died this week at his home near Atlanta at the age of 48, ESPN revealed on Thursday.

McClure worked for the Chicago Tribune covering the Bears for six years prior to arriving at ESPN in 2013. McClure also worked at the Fresno Bee and Chicago Sun-Times during his career as a journalist. He was a Chicago native and 1994 graduate of Northern Illinois University.

McClure, who covered the Falcons for ESPN, was beloved by many within the industry. He received numerous tributes after his death.