Amazon will go with Herbstreit for Thursday night NFL games

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Kirk Herbstreit is likely to continue his current ESPN/ABC duties while calling Thursday night games for AmazonESPN PICTURES

Amazon has “decided that ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit will be the analyst for its NFL Thursday Night Games package starting this fall,” according to NBCSPORTS.com’s Peter King. Herbstreit will “likely continue his current ESPN/ABC duties as well.” King writes that Amazon’s decision to go with Herbstreit, first flagged as a possibility late last month, “seems bizarre.” The company would go for a “really good college football analyst who’s never had a regular job in the NFL ‘to remake games’, say, Drew Brees or Sean Payton or Kurt Warner.” But Herbstreit is “a pro” and a “big name for legions of college football fans.” He must “really want to break the glass ceiling from college to the NFL.” Amazon “probably wanted to make a splash with this hire”, and Herbstreit is a “guy with no status quo” (NBCSPORTS.com, 3/7).

BUCK’S OPTIONS: In New York, Andrew Marchand notes that Joe Buck is “under contract to Fox,” so the decision on his future with the net “rests with” Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks. Fox is “fully within his rights to tell Buck he has to honor the last year of his contract.” Fox Sports executives and Buck “held talks last week about what should be next between the two sides.” What ESPN might offer Buck is “not fully known yet,” but it should be “in the range of five years and $60-75 million, if the network gets the chance.” If Fox allows Buck to leave, Buck’s primary job would be to “team up with former Fox partner Troy Aikman on “Monday Night Football.” You wouldn’t expect Buck to do “Sunday Night Baseball.” He would be “probably a producer of projects on ESPN +”. Fox may try to “extend Buck’s contract, offer him a raise and play on the fact that he and the network have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship for nearly three decades.” Fox can offer him “larger games and ratings than ESPN”. If Buck doesn’t perform with “MNF,” Al Michaels “will be ESPN’s next pick.” If ESPN can’t land Buck or Michaels, the network has “considered Chris Fowler internally and CBS/TNT/YES’ Ian Eagle externally” (NY POST, 3/7).

GRIESE RETURNS TO COACHING: ESPN.com’s Nick Wagoner quoted sources as saying the 49ers “have decided to hire Brian Griese as the next quarterbacks coach.” Griese had been “one of ESPN’s Monday Night Football color analysts” for 20 (ESPN.com, 3/4).

INSERT SENSORS: Richard Deitsch of THE ATHLETIC cites sources as saying that reps for former Raiders general manager Mike Mayock “have had exploratory talks with a few places, including Amazon and the NFL Network.” The key word here is “exploratory”. There’s ‘nothing imminent here in terms of signing Mayock anywhere’. He would be an “exceptionally valuable asset to any outlet with NFL ties, given his working motto in the league over the past three seasons.” There’s also this: “Mayock’s mixed record as GM during the draft…would provide viewers with unique insight into why certain picks don’t work and how sausage is made in a drawing room.” Fans “seldom get a glimpse of the failure’s perspective and what was learned from that failure” (THEATHLETIC.com, 3/7).

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