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Volume 25 No. 66
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Sources: Fox Wants Tirico-Manning Pairing For "TNF" Package

Manning and Tirico reportedly developed a strong relationship over the years when Tirico called "MNF"
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Fox wants Peyton Manning to be the lead analyst on its new $3B "TNF" package "so badly" that it is exploring the idea of luring NBC's Mike Tirico as its play-by-play man on the 11-game schedule to "help make Manning more comfortable," according to sources cited by Andrew Marchand of the N.Y. POST. A source said the idea is "in the first quarter." Sources said that what could "add momentum to a Tirico-and-Manning combination" is that the NFL "likes the pairing on Thursdays." The league and Fox "want to give the Thursday package a big-time feel." Tirico was "calling Thursday night games until NBC -- along with CBS -- lost its package to Fox." A source "insisted this is not an Alex Rodriguez-type situation, where Manning is trying to name his play-by-player at Fox." Manning and Tirico "developed a strong relationship over the years when Tirico called play-by-play on 'Monday Night Football.'" However, there also is the "major question of whether NBC would allow" Tirico to "work the Fox games." A source said that NBC has "yet to be formally approached" about the idea. But it "could work if Fox would assume a portion of Tirico’s salary" (N.Y. POST, 3/8).

NOT SO FAST: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted Tirico quickly has "become the face of NBC Sports," as he serves as the primary primetime Olympics host, the play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame football and the co-host of "Football Night in America." Tirico also "handles various golf broadcasts for NBC." It makes "little sense to think that NBC would dilute its investment in Tirico by allowing him to moonlight in such a high-profile way with a competitor -- specifically with the competitor that swooped in" and picked up "TNF" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 3/7). The N.Y. Daily News’ Bob Raissman said both "MNF" and "TNF" are "in the toilet," so they "need to create a buzz going into the season." Raissman noted Manning's asking price could be $10M a year, but networks are "not going to get a rating point because he’s in the booth.” SNY’s Sal Licata said, “No broadcaster is worth that and the fans don't care who is doing the game. If anything, the people doing the games only impact the game negatively." But the N.Y. Daily News’ Anthony McCarron said Manning "would bring something to the broadcast." McCarron: "Get him in the booth, I don't care what it takes" (“Daily News Live!,” SNY, 3/7).

RIDDICK WANTS "MNF": ESPN's Louis Riddick said the open "MNF" analyst position is "something that has definitely been a goal of mine and ESPN is very, very, very, very well aware that I am very much so interested in it." Riddick, appearing on SI.com's "Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch," said, "It’s the pinnacle of broadcasting as far as I’m concerned. It’s the most iconic position in broadcasting, period, to be involved with ‘Monday Night Football’ either as a play-by-play or as an analyst." Riddick said response from ESPN execs on his interest has been "very favorable." Riddick: "You saw what my level of interest is with being involved with live games, live broadcasts with my involvement with the Pro Bowl this year with my on-field analysis" (“Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch,” SI.com, 3/8).