Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are excited about the “fresh start” with ESPN


“To see someone else do it and work with other people makes me feel like it’s 2001 again.”

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Lynne Sladky/AP

It’s been two months since Joe Buck jumped from Fox to ESPN. It was only on Monday that the severity of moving into the “Monday Night Football” cabin hit him.

Buck and Troy Aikman made their first trips to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut to meet with executives and prospective employees preparing for the upcoming season.

“It literally fell out of the sky. The more I got around it, Troy and I were just blown away. We were in a conference room an hour ago with 20+ people from all different parts of the Monday Night Football support team and it was overwhelming. I actually got emotional talking about it,” Buck said Monday in his first comments since ESPN signed him and Aikman in March.

Aikman had considered combining Thursday night’s games on Amazon with a reduced Fox schedule that would allow him to continue editing the playoffs and Super Bowl. As trying to piece that together became increasingly difficult, ESPN began talking to the Hall of Famer quarterback about moving to the Monday night cabin.

Aikman said the opportunity to come to ESPN — where he can call prime time and playoff games and stay on the Super Bowl rotation — didn’t crystallize until after this year’s Super Bowl.

“This is an opportunity at ESPN that I’m really looking forward to,” said Aikman. “I mean, like Joe said, we’ve been doing this in one direction for so long. To see someone else do it and work with other people makes me feel like it’s 2001 again. And kind of a reboot of my broadcasting career, and it’s probably coming at a really good time for me personally and probably for Joe too .”

After ESPN landed Aikman, talks began about Buck joining him even though Buck had a year left on his contract with Fox. Buck said the departure was amicable, echoing what Fox said a few months ago.

“I think they understood how well it fits into my life to be selfish and personal,” said Buck, who will make his ESPN debut Thursday when he hosts an alternate PGA Championship television show. “I’ve had a long conversation with a lot of people, and having a conversation with (former Fox Sports President) David Hill at the very end really sealed it. He said to me, ‘You’re going to be nervous before your first game and when was the last time you were really nervous before your first? These are opportunities and you must seize them when you can get them.’ It couldn’t have gone better for me and my family.”

Buck and Aikman have worked together since 2002, when they became Fox’s top crew. They will tie with Pat Summerall and John Madden for the longest-standing NFL pairing at 21 seasons when Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos visit Wilson’s former team, the Seattle Seahawks, on September 12.

“We sat down towards the end of the season to think about where we were going. I think we were challenged to say what your pie in heaven is, and I’m sitting next to the pie in heaven now,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s head of events and studio production. “Plan for the best, and yes, my answer is yes, we have the best footing.”

Buck was pleased that Fox’s Joe Davis (baseball) and Kevin Burkhardt (NFL) were promoted to the top broadcast teams. As for future top Fox analyst Tom Brady, Aikman believes he will be able to make the transition.

“Tom has won everything he’s done in life and there’s no reason to think he won’t win here, too,” Aikman said. “The reason I think he will be good is because he will work. He’s a guy we know, he’s the reason he’s been playing as long as he has. There’s a reason he’s won seven Super Bowls, and that’s because he doesn’t take shortcuts, and he won’t do it on the airwaves.” Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are excited about the “fresh start” with ESPN

Matthew Hallett

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