Redemption was the first thing that came to mind of new ESPN analyst Troy Aikman when asked about the Buffalo Bills’ home opener on Monday Night Football.
“It’s a great duel, two playoff teams from a year ago, both teams, you could say, ended in disappointment because they didn’t get where they hoped they would,” Aikman said week in a conference call. “To cover them and then Tennessee with their disappointing finish last season and the different moves, yes. . . for this game to be early in the season, a really celebratory matchup.”
The Bills naturally took the lead with 13 seconds remaining in their divisional playoff game in Kansas City. The Titans held the No. 1 seed in the AFC and lost in the divisional round at home to Cincinnati in overtime, despite beating the Bengals and sacking quarterback Joe Burrow nine times.
Aikman is on the Buffalo train for the 2022 season.
“I feel like I have to outperform everyone, no matter what position I’m in, no matter what age, no matter where they’re from,” Benford said in an interview with The Buffalo News.
“I’ve really enjoyed following Buffalo, a huge fan of what they do at all levels of their organization,” he said. “I love Josh Allen, as much as I love the rest of America, and the way this team is built. Von Miller going to Buffalo will only make her better.”
“A healthy Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill and everything else they’ve got ahead of them in Tennessee, a good head coach who’s getting this team ready, who has the feel and the makings of a preview of something that’s going to happen in January,” said Aikman’s sideline partner Joe Buck.
In fact, when creating the 2022 schedule, the NFL wanted to capitalize on Allen’s big finish last season. That’s a big reason the Bills will travel to Los Angeles to play the NFL kickoff game against the Rams and then come back in Week 2 with a nationally televised game.
“One of the first things we looked at was where are we going to play?” NFL vice president of broadcasting Onnie Bose said when speaking to reporters. “The Dallas Cowboys?” And this year it’s ‘Where’s Joe Burrow, where is Josh Allen going to play?
“Her lasting memories of Josh Allen were of some of the most incredible quarterback games, and it just felt right and made a lot of sense to just put him back in the spotlight against the Super Bowl champion, and even just for the one mix of it.” the rest of the weekend and where we ended up laying down the Sunday night game, the Monday night game and the two doubleheader games. All of these things are connected. But it was a strong narrative that we wanted to focus on.”
Aikman and Buck were part of the major reorganization in NFL broadcasting this offseason, moving from Fox Sports to ESPN. Aikman had spent 21 years at Fox while Buck had 26. Aikman’s contract with Fox was for five years and $92.5 million, while Buck was paid $75 million over five years, according to the New York Post.
The big moves began when Al Michaels’ contract with NBC expired and he signed a deal with Amazon Prime to call Thursday night NFL games. Michaels will join Kirk Herbstreit at the Amazon booth. After ESPN lured Aikman, Buck attempted to end his Fox contract a year early to join the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback. FOX left Buck out of the deal and Kevin Burkardt and retired tight end Greg Olsen are expected to be the NFL’s No. 1 broadcast team.
Leslie Frazier was named one of two winners of the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award, voted for by members of the Professional Football Writers of America, for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL.
“I’m just as surprised as everyone else, and I’m sort of in the game with this announcer movement,” Buck said. “Someone said to me the other day, we as fans need an athlete to tell us where all these sports announcers end up because everyone has shifted and shifted their place.”
Aikman’s huge deal was doubled earlier this month when Fox signed Tom Brady to a 10-year, $375 million deal to join its No. 1 crew when the Tampa Bay quarterback retires. It is the largest contract in the history of sports broadcasting.
“Tom has won everything he’s done in life and there’s no reason to think he won’t win here, too,” Aikman said. “The reason I think he will be good is because he will work. He’s a guy we know, he’s the reason he’s been playing as long as he has. There’s a reason he’s won seven Super Bowls, and it’s because he doesn’t take shortcuts, and he won’t do it on the airwaves. I think this blueprint is one that not everyone is following, but I think it’s going to be great.
The Bills will be featured twice on MNF in 2022, with the second game taking place in Cincinnati on Jan. 2. Buck and Aikman may or may not broadcast the Bills’ home opener. On this day, September 19, two games will take place. The Bills and the Titans begin at 7:15 p.m. Minnesota visits Philadelphia at 8:30 p.m. Which game Buck and Aikman play will likely be decided much closer to the regular season.