Kirk Herbstreit has rekindled his NFL dream in the turbulent broadcast market

Kirk Herbstreit had a mixed reaction when he heard about Troy Aikman’s five-year, $90 million deal to call ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

He first said he was smitten with Aikman, having been a fan and friend of the former Cowboys quarterback for years.

Second, there was disappointment, because in the back of Herbstreit’s mind he and college football partner Chris Fowler might one day call it “Monday Night Football,” along with their best college game every Saturday. Aikman’s five-year contract meant he would call ESPN’s Super Bowl in 2027, eliminating Herbstreit from the competition.

“That was gone,” Herbstreit told the Post.

The ESPN NFL door shut on Aikman, but it left a package on his front door.

Before ESPN was late on Aikman, he almost had a deal to stay at Fox Sports while adding Amazon’s Thursday Nights to the team with Al Michaels.

This fall, Amazon Prime Video will be the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” and has endeavored to assemble a very credible top broadcast team. Michaels wanted Aikman next to him in the dressing room.

After Aikman left the board, Amazon quickly switched to Herbstreit and struck a deal that will bring him over $10 million a year.

Herbstreit also received a three-year ESPN extension on top of the two years already in his contract, according to sources. This means that Herbstreit will remain at College Football GameDay and, as the #1 college game analyst, will declare the National Championship for the next five years – with a raise. Herbstreit will also continue to play a key role in ESPN’s NFL draft coverage.

Kirk Herbstreit speaking with UCLA Coach Chip Kelly on October 23, 2021
Kirk Herbstreit speaking with UCLA Coach Chip Kelly on October 23, 2021
Getty Images

Finances aside – Herbstreit makes at least $18 million a year with ESPN and Amazon combined in the Aikman neighborhood (he declined to comment) – Herbstreit is looking forward to working in the NFL with Michaels and lead producer Fred Gaudelli on Amazon Prime Video.

“It’s going to be an incredible show and I’m going to do everything I can to keep my end of the bargain and try to make it one of the best booths on TV,” said Herbstreit, 52.

His college work will be exclusive to ESPN while he will broadcast the NFL to Amazon only.

On Wednesday, Amazon announced the official announcement of Michaels and Herbstreit as lead broadcast team with Gaudelli as producer. There will also be alternative feeds to be determined that fans can view as well.

Kirk Herbstreit (right) with Lee Corso
Kirk Herbstreit (right) with Lee Corso
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Although Michaels and Herbstreit don’t know each other, Herbstreit fits Michaels’ preferred mold of experienced analyst. The only blow to Herbstreit is that he’s a “college guy.”

What’s lost in this “College Guy” talk is that Amazon doesn’t hire a quarterback. If that were the case, it could have gone to NBC’s Drew Brees, who had the second most yards in NFL history.

Instead, it tunes into a broadcaster, meaning the fact that Herbstreit never threw an NFL pass really doesn’t matter that much once the red light goes on the cameras.

There is actually an advantage to being a “college guy,” as Herbstreit knew and chronicled many of the NFL stars’ careers. As he and Fowler called in a few NFL games over the years, his college experience helped him.

“When they see me, it’s almost like a class reunion,” said Herbstreit.

Al Michaels will be working with Herbstreit
Al Michaels will be working with Herbstreit
Getty Images

While making tens of millions of dollars on games is far from digging a ditch, focusing on NFL football on Thursday nights, a full “College GameDay” show on Saturday mornings, and then a nationally televised one is a huge boost preparing for Saturday night’s game.

“I will not lie, it will be monumental,” said Herbstreit. “I won’t actually have any days off for four months.”

The NFL will enter a new era with Amazon streaming games this fall. It will be a significant step in the way we look at the sport.

Amazon will be the only way for a fan to watch these matchups nationwide, but if, say, the Jets or Giants are in a particular week, it will be on regular TV in the local market.

Post-Aikman news has been going pretty well for Herbstreit. He’ll stay on ESPN announcing the best college football games and the legendary GameDay, while now adding the NFL. He described joining Amazon as a “groundbreaking” opportunity.

“You’re looking for the next challenge to fuel yourself and get excited, and that’s going to be a big challenge,” Herbstreit said. Kirk Herbstreit has rekindled his NFL dream in the turbulent broadcast market


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