The only thing more ridiculous than the money TV networks are throwing at guys to be analysts is the fact that a Black man has never had one of those coveted longtime gigs.
This is so NFL.
For a league that is close to 70 percent Black, the NFL just hasn’t provided equal opportunity to all, especially once they stop playing.
And sadly executives at these TV networks are just as guilty for their hiring as the league itself. And you have to believe the NFL quietly co-signs the hiring of any marquee analysts who will sit in that No. 2 chair on national TV every week and broadcast in front of millions watching at home.
Fans have been watching former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman for 20 years on Fox.
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That has changed with the news that he has bolted for an eye-popping, five-year, $92.5-million deal by ESPN to be its lead analyst for Monday Night Football.
It will be interesting to see who Fox picks to replace Aikman. Michael Strahhan’s name has been thrown around. He’s a Good Morning America co-host and does pre- and postgame NFL coverage for Fox.
Strahan would add color in the booth that to this point is totally whitewashed.
Think about it. Cris Collinsworth has been the main analyst at NBC for 13 years. He replaced John Madden who had the gig for a million years. Before NBC, Madden was at Fox and before that he was at CBS.
It appears former New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees is set to take over Collinsworh’s chair next season, although there’s been no formal announcement yet.
That means three of the four major TV outlets for the NFL — NBC, CBS and ESPN — all have white TV analysts in place. Fox is a question mark. That math just doesn’t add up.
And here’s the worst news of all. Amazon is getting in the mix and taking over the Thursday Night Football broadcast. It is hiring a new broadcast team. And its reported pick to fill that spot. Wait for it. Yes, another white guy. The New York Post reported that Kirk Herbstreit has agreed to a four-year deal. We get it. He’s done a fine job as the lead analysts for college football at ABC/ESPN. But the former Ohio State QB never even had a cup of coffee and sweet roll in the NFL. He never played in the league. His hiring is suspect, to say the least.
Yet, there’s an opportunity and a pot of gold for him in the taking.
The only guy who got a shot on a primetime NFL telecast was O.J. Simpson. He was that main analyst on Monday night Football in 1983 and 1984. By 1985, the network added Joe Namath. Simpson was canned after his third year.
And in the last few years when MNF was down, considered second-rate, Booger McFarland and Louis Riddick were analysts.
Still, neither of the three were getting Aikman-like loot thrown at them.
The NFL has been playing dirty pool forever. First, it was nearly impossible for a Black man to play QB. There is an embarrassingly low number of Black coaches in the league. Often, owners had to be forced to even interview Black candidates. Enter the Rooney Rule. The hiring of Black people in the front office has been disgraceful.
Now, it seems a primetime analyst spot is out of reach, too.
We get Aikman. He was the quarterback of a dynasty when the Cowboys won three out of four Super Bowls. But he wasn’t the only one playing. Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith were a part of those teams.
In fact, Irvin is great on TV. He knows the game and has a personality that level out at a 10. You could make an argument that Irvin could have easily gotten that job instead of Aikman.
And before you scream that there are a ton of former Black NFL players on TV covering the league — and that’s true — but none making the loot we’re seeing given out currently.
Sure, they can do tier-two and tier-three games for regional coverage and they can do studio shows for ESPN and the NFL Network.
But we haven’t seen one land a sweet gig like Tony Romo did. Forget that he never won anything as QB in Dallas, but he won the lottery. Somehow, he’s making $18 million a season — not a typo — to do games on CBS each week.
So is the lack of former Black NFL players doing that job in a primetime slot and being paid in full.