ESPN is poaching sports broadcasting legends Joe Buck and Troy Aikman away from Fox Sports to be the new faces and voices of “Monday Night Football,” ESPN announced Wednesday.
Buck and Aikman have signed a multiyear agreement in which they will call games for ESPN as well as contribute content for ESPN+. More details on their arrangement with ESPN+ will be announced later.
The departure for both Aikman and Buck is now official after the New York Post over the last few weeks had reported that the pair was planning to exit Fox Sports. While ESPN did not confirm terms of the deal, The Athletic reported that Aikman’s deal with ESPN would be for $92.5 million over five years, or $18.5 million annually. The New York Post additionally said that Buck’s deal would be in the $60-75 million range over five years, adding that Fox tried to keep Buck with an offer of $12 million per year.
The two will kick off their “MNF” tenure with ESPN beginning in the 2022-2023 NFL season, which will mark their 21st season in the booth together. In fact, that partnership will match both Pat Summerall and John Madden for the all-time record as on-air NFL partners.
Buck and Aikman will also be joined by Lisa Salters on “Monday Night Football,” who is returning to the broadcast as a sideline reporter for her 11th season. John Parry will be the officiating analyst once again.
Buck and Aikman’s regular-season “Monday Night Football” debut is set for September 12, 2022, beginning the longstanding television series’ 53rd season. Phil Dean will return as producer, and Jimmy Platt as director, for their third and fourth seasons, respectively. On the same night, “Monday Night Football with Peyton” and Eli will return for a second season.
ESPN’s poaching of both Buck and Aikman is a huge coup in the sports media world, with Buck and Aikman having called over 300 games and six Super Bowls. It also suggests that Fox’s World Series coverage will have a new voice calling games for the first time in decades. And while it’s unclear what projects Buck may take on for ESPN+, it could be an opportunity for Buck to take on passion projects involving different docuseries and contribute in other ways to ESPN at large.
Aikman and Buck previously first joined Fox in 2002 as part of an unusual three-man booth alongside Cris Collinsworth. Coincidentally, that shift took place because the late John Madden had requested to be let out of the final year of his contract with Fox in order to join ABC’s “Monday Night Football” team.
“Everything about ‘Monday Night Football,’ including the broadcast, set the standard for the modern NFL experience. My earliest memories of walking around football stadiums are tagging along with my dad as he called ‘Monday Night Football’ on radio,” Joe Buck said in a statement. “To return to the stadium on Monday nights with Troy – who I have the utmost comfort with and confidence in – and begin a new chapter, for us and ESPN, has me excited about this season and our future.”
“The opportunity to be a voice on ‘Monday Night Football,’ adding to its legacy and being a part of the future of the NFL on ESPN, has me motivated and reflective. As a kid in California, the voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and my mom’s personal favorite, Don Meredith, echoed throughout our living room each week,” Troy Aikman said. “Joe and I are humbled to be part of that same tradition that has existed for more than 50 years across generations of football fans. I am looking forward to the next several years with ESPN and all our new teammates.”
“When you have the opportunity to bring in the iconic, longest-running NFL broadcasting duo, you take it, especially at a time when we are on the cusp of a new era in our expanding relationship with the NFL,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, ESPN and Sports Content, said in a statement. “The NFL continues to ascend, and we now have more games than ever before, providing additional opportunities for Joe, Troy and our deep roster of commentators.”