Joe Buck had no clairvoyance about Troy Aikman’s move to ESPN.
Appearing on the “Sports-Casters” podcast, Buck revealed that he thought his longtime broadcast partner and close friends would remain at Fox Sports, before the three-time Super Bowl champion ultimately joined him on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” package.
“Honest to God, I never saw it coming.” Buck said, as covered by Awful Announcing. “…It is true that all year long, I thought that at worst, Troy was going to do the Thursday nights on Amazon and then do the doubleheader game…the big, late Sunday football games, which is basically every other weekend, on Fox with me, and then he’d do the postseason and the Super Bowl.
“So his schedule would basically remain unchanged from what we had done the previous four years with Thursday night and Sunday night, and I would basically just do the Sunday games and stay at Fox. And that whole situation disintegrated fast.
“That’s his story to tell, and he’s been pretty open about it. But you’re right, I think when I saw him walk out of the door, and he was gone totally, it kind of started in my head, ‘You know, what do I want to do here?’ Because you’re right, I’d told Fox, and I’ve said this a million times, and I said this to them, I was going to do baseball one more year, which would have been this year, and then I was going to step aside, and it was time for a new voice. I loved every second of it, but I feel like it was time. And I’m thrilled for Joe Davis. So that plan was kind of already set up. ”
Back in March, Aikman had revealed he was disappointed by how his exit went down at Fox, where he’d been for 21 years.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Aikman remarked after being asked about why Fox let him leave for rival ESPN. “I don’t know that I ever will get the answer to that one. I think through it all, it’s a business. Fox is welcome to do whatever it is they feel is in their best interest as I am, as everybody is, so there’s no hard feelings about anything. I had a great 21 years at Fox. I guess what’s perplexing to me is that I had no conversation with my boss [Fox Sports president Eric Shanks] until he called me to congratulate me on my contract with ESPN.”
Aikman said later: “I guess it’s disappointing. I would’ve thought there would’ve been a conversation at least. And then when I did talk with him, I just asked for an explanation on some things that I didn’t quite understand, and he opted not to do that as well. I guess that’s where it’s left and that’s how I’ll leave Fox and that’s fine. I’m excited about ESPN and thrilled to continue to work with Joe.”
Whereas Aikman had an expiring contract, Buck actually had one year left on his deal. He did not want to start over with a new color commentator. There was also the fact that his wife, Michelle Beisner-Buck, does features for “Monday Night Football,” and this job allows them to be together much more during football season. It also helped that Buck signed a five-year deal worth a total of $75 million, according to The Post’s Andrew Marchand.
Buck expressed gratitude to Fox for facilitating the move and noted that Fox’s price for letting him leave early was one Big Ten football game.
“Fox did me a huge favor,” he said. “They did not have to let me out. They offered me an extension, so it wasn’t like they were like ‘Oh, please take him.’ I could easily have signed an extension there and still be there now. But they understood that I wanted to work with Troy, and I think a change is probably good for everybody. So they made a trade, I think it was Penn State-Purdue. …That’s what I was worth, Penn State-Purdue.”
Fox pivoted quickly after Buck and Aikman’s exit, announcing on March 10 that Tom Brady would join its top booth after he retired from the NFL. The Post reported Brady’s deal is for 10 years and $375 million. Kevin Burkhardt is now Fox’s top play-by-play man.