For any network but especially for ESPN and Disney, for whom an outlay like that would be mere couch change, the investment would be worth it. ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” telecasts have struggled, at least from an esoteric if not monetary point of view, since Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden departed. The Jason Witten experiment failed badly and while Booger McFarland has been an improvement, the broadcast team (with Joe Tessitore) hasn’t clicked with viewers.
With NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and Fox’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman set, signing Romo would make sense if ESPN hopes to move into the Sunday afternoon market at some point with games on ABC and Romo filling other roles on the cable network as well. Romo is in the last year of a three-year contract that pays him around $4 million annually and Front Office Sports reports that CBS has the right to match ESPN’s offer. By comparison, John Madden, during his heyday in the 1990s, made $8 million a year — roughly around $14 million in today’s dollars.
At the moment, good options beyond Romo just aren’t there. Peyton Manning turned down the chance to move into football broadcasting with Fox and ESPN; might that change if Eli Manning is no longer playing in the NFL? New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who turns 40 Wednesday and can become a free agent in the offseason, hasn’t decided whether to return for the 2020 season and ESPN reported over the weekend that he had received calls from what Adam Schefter said was “at least one non-ESPN network” to inquire about his availability and interest.
“Drew has not spoken with them or anyone about any new opportunities,” an unnamed source told ESPN. “Until such time as a decision is made about next season, he will not be engaging in any conversations regarding or considering any new opportunities.”
As far as Romo goes, though, there’s one big caveat. Would he have the same chemistry working with someone else that he has with Jim Nantz? Nantz probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for Romo’s success, same as with Michaels and Buck. In some respects, finding the right play-by-play person is harder than landing on the right former athlete. Would Romo find the same easy relationship with someone else?
He might not, even though he undoubtedly is a special talent. While Romo was still the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback, Nantz and Michaels had a conversation about which NFL player might make the best analyst. As Nantz told reporters last year, each confided that he had a guy in mind.
Come to find out, each was thinking of Romo.