Why ex-Cowboys like Jason Witten and Tony Romo get the best NFL TV jobs

NEW YORK — As Waylon Jennings sang, “Mamas, do not let your infants develop as much as be cowboys” — that’s, until they play for the Dallas Cowboys, as a result of former stars of “America’s Group” appear to attain the best jobs in NFL tv.

Throughout ESPN’s “upfront” presentation Tuesday in Manhattan, the community trotted out former Cowboys tight finish Jason Witten as its new recreation analyst for “Monday Night time Football.” Witten will be a part of ex-Dallas quarterbacks Tony Romo (CBS Sports activities) and Troy Aikman (Fox Sports activities) in the broadcast sales space. Meaning three of the 4 colour analyst roles at the league’s TV companions will probably be crammed by former Cowboys.

To not point out, there is a group of different former Cowpokes in NFL TV, together with Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders and DeMarcus Ware at NFL Community; Jimmy Johnson and Daryl Johnston at Fox; and Darren Woodson at ESPN. It is a broadcasting lineage that dates to former QB “Dandy” Don Meredith, who served in the unique “MNF” sales space with Howard Cosell and Keith Jackson, and then with Frank Gifford.

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No. 1 NFL recreation analyst is amongst the most extremely paid, most sought-after jobs in all of TV. Jon Gruden, Witten’s predecessor in the “MNF” sales space, was ESPN’s highest-paid worker at $6.5 million a yr, in accordance with writer James Andrew Miller.

These plum jobs solely come out there as soon as a decade or so. Ex-Giants QB Phil Simms reigned as CBS Sports activities’ No. 1 analyst for 20 years earlier than being displaced by Romo in 2017. Aikman has been No. 1 at Fox Sports activities with play-by-play companion Joe Buck for 17 years, making them the league’s longest-operating TV staff. If Cris Collinsworth ever hangs them up at NBC Sports activities, do not be stunned to see one other ex-Cowboy make it a clear TV sweep.

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Naturally, this delights Cowboys proprietor Jerry Jones, who made a shock look alongside Witten, new “MNF” play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore and subject analyst Booger McFarland. Jones is one among the savviest businessmen in sports. He is aware of ex-Cowboys on TV means free publicity for the Cowboys model, which is the most useful in the NFL with a present valuation of $four.eight billion, in line with Forbes.

The Cowboys have appeared extra occasions on “MNF” than another workforce, Jones proudly advised Madison Avenue media consumers Tuesday. With Jones, it is all about the Star, all the time.

“We’re all the time saying, ‘Please, take a look at us,'” Jones stated.

Witten stated he by no means would have landed the job with out Jones and the Cowboys. “I definitely recognize that,” he stated.

Sporting Information was first to report that Witten was fascinated about TV. Fox Sports activities auditioned Witten for “Thursday Night time Football” earlier than he took the ESPN job. 

Months forward of Witten’s first common-season “MNF” broadcast with Tessitore, McFarland and sideline reporter Lisa Salters on Sept. 10, SN requested on-air-expertise, executives and brokers why, precisely, former Cowboys will dominate NFL TV this fall and why they get the prime broadcast jobs as an alternative of, say, former Redskins, Giants or Patriots. Listed here are a few of the causes given:

— They’re recognized commodities. When a community lands a Cowboys recreation, it inevitably sends its No. 1 broadcast/manufacturing group. Meaning present Cowboys gamers get to mingle with the best broadcasters, producers and administrators in sports TV. They spend hours at manufacturing conferences. They meet the prime community executives. That pays off when it comes time for them to hold up their cleats.

“Look, everyone knows that the Cowboys are the group that networks would like to see as a lot as potential on their schedules, in order that they’re getting the expertise with the prime-notch teams that come by means of there if you speak about a manufacturing assembly,” stated Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s senior vice chairman of occasion and studio manufacturing. The expertise prepares former Cowboys stars to “be extraordinarily eloquent and capable of perceive type of what this aspect of the digital camera is like,” she added.

Equally, CBS chairman Sean McManus and lead play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz have been impressed with Romo’s character/soccer acumen lengthy earlier than he retired. Each thought Romo can be a TV pure. Nantz knew he was proper as quickly as the duo sat down to name their first follow recreation.

“That is going to sound loopy to say, however by the time we completed the fourth quarter of that [practice] recreation, I assumed he was able to go on the air,” Nantz stated throughout the NFL playoffs. “His instincts are off the charts.”

— They carry a constructed-in viewers. There is a purpose the NFL’s TV companions — ESPN, CBS, Fox and NBC — virtually kill one another for the rights to air Cowboys video games. Win or lose, “America’s Group” attracts the highest scores. When a Witten or a Romo enters the broadcast sales space, the networks can spotlight a former participant who’s already a family identify.

The Cowboys issue “provides you a constructed-in fan base for a brand new broadcaster coming in,” stated one prime agent. “Witten’s had lots of publicity, an extended, unimaginable profession.” 

When Witten auditioned with Tessitore towards rivals comparable to Browns deal with Joe Thomas, his Cowboys historical past gave him a bonus, the agent added. “Do you need to put a 3rd Cowboy in the sales space or a man who performed for an zero-sixteen staff (Thomas)? This can be a copycat league,” the agent stated.

— They’re used to the media highlight: Former Cowboys land TV jobs for the similar cause ex-Giants like Simms and Michael Strahan and ex-Yankees like Mark Teixeira land media gigs: They’re accustomed to coping with massive-market native media who comply with their each transfer, in response to Tessitore.

“When you’re a celebrity Dallas Cowboy, when that star is on the aspect of your helmet, you get up daily coping with the strain, the protection,” he stated. “And I feel that a number of guys who’ve gone via that, they equip themselves extremely properly with the media . . . and there’s simply no denying that have.”

Love them or detest them, followers watch the Cowboys. They do not utterly hand over their rooting curiosity, both for or towards, when Dallas’ stars transfer into TV, in accordance with ESPN commentator and native Texan Will Cain.

“Perhaps it’s the star. Perhaps it’s the blue and silver. Perhaps it was Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman,” Cain informed Sporting Information in an interview. “However the Dallas Cowboys, in my estimation, symbolize what’s nice about the state of Texas, and what’s nice about the state of Texas symbolizes what’s nice about the United States of America. They’re America’s Staff.”