Buck-Aikman begin the adjustment to ESPN; Troy says toughest thing was to tell Erin Andrews goodbye


Joe Buck and Troy Aikman sat near one another looking perfectly comfortable. “I’ve never been here in Bristol. It’s the first time. It’s impressive, Joe said.”

The duo was introduced to the sports media by ESPN head, Jimmy Pitaro. Buck opened his remarks. “This is exciting. We’re sitting here in Bristol, Connecticut, a place I’ve never been to prior to this day, and it’s been overwhelming, in the best possible sense of the word.” Joe said. He reminisced about what it was like traveling to NFL Monday Night games with his father Jack, when dad did the broadcasts for CBS Radio. Now, here he is in company headquarters, getting an introduction to the folks that he and Troy will work with Mondays in this fall.

David Hill, gave Joe Buck his first TV network shot. He also gave him his last pep talk before he left for ESPN.

He added, “Everything ended really well at FOX on a personal level. I had a long talk with a lot of people, and the conversation I had with David Hill right at the end, really sealed it.” Hill launched Fox Sports and hired Buck
in the 90s. Joe is 53, born out of wedlock in 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Joe said that one of the people who assured him that ESPN is a good place to work is Michelle, his wife and herself a member of the ESPN family.

Meanwhile, Hill told him, “You will be nervous before your first game. And when was the last time you were really nervous before your first time?” He said, “These are opportunities, and you need to take it if you can get it.”

Aikman and Buck heaved a bit of a sigh on leaving Fox sideliner Erin Andrews, herself a former ESPNer. “I will tell you the toughest call that I had to make was to tell Erin Andrews that I was leaving (Fox). She’s like a sister to both of us, and you become very, very close with the people that are on your crew.”

On meeting the ESPN staff, Joe was overwhelmed, “Yeah, it literally dropped out of the sky. The more I get around it — Troy and I were just blown away. We were in a conference room an hour ago with 20 plus people from all different parts of the support staff for Monday Night Football, and it was overwhelming. I actually got emotional talking about it.” The buzz about all the broadcast shuffling this past winter was unstoppable and almost riveting, The voices are becoming part of the NFL tapestry. The bucks are enormous. When Tony Romo’s contract at CBS was guaranteed $17 million and now Tom Brady’s at Fox for $37 million, you thought the sports globe was nipping at the bottle

Amazon Prime gets Al Michaels,  making a huge financial three year commitment to him. It seems like a bargain compared to Brady, Aikman and Romo. Everything seems inexpensive. While I’ve never been a fan of Kirk Herbstreit because he talks way too much Still his name is still well known and will work under the tutelage of arguably, the best ever NFL play-by-player in Uncle Al.

Kevin Burkhardt, #2 at Fox behind Buck, gets Joe’s job. Greg Olsen gets Aikman’s assignment for at least a season until it will be curtains up for Tom Brady. Mike Tirico gets Al’s Sunday night job at NBC and CBS for the most part remains intact.

Buck underscored how the media stays on top of all announcer developments assiduously, Aikman added, “I don’t want to disappoint anyone there at the (New York) Post (which covers sports broadcasting). Joe usually lets me know what’s happening.” Joe then quipped, “I just send him (Troy) kind of my own Cliff Notes.”

Buck said, “As far as Brady, would anybody ever bet against the guy being great at anything? He’s kind of cornered the market in that. But it’s a new thing, and with new opportunities come new responsibilities. I think it’ll be a steep learning curve, and I’m sure he’ll be fantastic.” 

It wouldn’t surprise me in time Joe Buck will do other sports at ESPN. Remember that Bristol has some golf which Fox lost, baseball and college basketball. It has a rich menu of all sports. Last year, Buck told me: “One of the more memorable games I ever did was college basketball, a double overtime heartbreaker.” Dad Jack did some St. Louis football Cardinals, St. Louis Blues in their first year, the old NBA St. Louis Hawks and of course the baseball Cardinals.


Between college seasons:

Jack Nixon

The Ohio native, 72, is currently in his 40th year as the radio play-by-play voice for New Mexico State University athletics. Only 11 other college-radio announcers have a longer tenure at one school than Nixon. A program only 45 miles from El Paso,  The ‘Voice of the Aggies’ has broadcast more than 400 Aggie football games and more than 1,000 Aggie men’s basketball games

Gene Deckerhoff 

Deckerhoff, 76, has voiced Seminole men’s basketball games since 1974. Gene was named “Voice of Seminoles Football” in the summer of 1979, and was behind the mic when the season opened against Southern Miss that fall. He added his role as play-by-play announcer for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1989. Gene, the most popular, statewide football voice will retain his NFL assignment this fall.

Hearing from others: Posted on Facebook:

Richard Podolsky

Halby–Just because Brent worked 6 Final Fours and 6 NBA Finals doesn’t mean he deserves to be in the HOF. It just means the CBS suits at the time felt he was the best they had to serve up. There’s a reason he’s never been chosen Sportscaster of the Year by his peers.

Robert Yanofsky

The best part of the TNT NBA Conference Finals decision (Kevin Harlan/Reggie Miller/Allie LaForce) is all three are excellent choices. If you asked 300 fans, Anderson, Eagle and Harlan might receive 100 votes apiece.


David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments