1. After calling games together for 20 years at Fox, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman work together for the first time Monday Night Football game for ESPN last night.
It was the typical Buck-and-Aikman telecast we’ve heard every Sunday for the past two decades. As I said on Twitter right at the beginning, whether you like Buck and Aikman or not, whether you think they call a good game or not, the one thing that can’t be denied is that when you hear their voices, you automatically get a sense of the great game.
After watching every edition of the ManningCast last season, I didn’t watch a second of the ManningCast last night. This is not a knock on Peyton and Eli in any way, shape or form. ManningCast is awesome. I’ve never had the urge to flip, thanks to Buck and Aikman.
I spoke with Buck right after the Seahawks held on to beat the Broncos, 17–16, thanks to Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett not knowing how to run the game and attempting a 64-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth down. and -5 from the Seattle 46-yard line.
The veteran play-by-play caller gave us a behind-the-scenes look at his first day on the new job.
Sports Illustrated: So any nerves before the game or was it like any other broadcast for you?
Buck: It was like no other broadcast and it was like no other night. I was very excited at the young age of 53, but in some ways I felt like I was 24 or 25 doing the Buccaneers and Bears on opening day in 1994.
Here’s what’s new. It’s like starting a new school. But on the other hand, I never felt nervous. It was great because my wife was there and we had time on the field and we FaceTimed our kids before she did what she had and then I went up in the cabin and it was just so peaceful.
I told her, I felt like I was going to be jumped and we do more here because it’s a stand-alone game compared to, most of the time with late game on Fox, the early games go on and you don’t even do a -camera at the beginning of the game.
We’re doing a few segments here, and Troy and I didn’t stress too much about them and just took it as it came and it was a great feeling and a great start to a new relationship.
AND: I saw you did a lot during the day. You were doing videos on social media, you were on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt after the game. Will this be the rate every week?
Buck: We will do SVP and we are doing recap after and that is good. You feel like you want to leave with everything locked in and I love the pregame stuff because it puts me in the right frame of mind. It gets me in the mood to talk about it all and you get the words in the foreplay and then it makes the game a little bit easier so you’re not starting a sprint when they’re counting you out there. We’re going to be dealing with a lot of different shows from them, which I love.
AND: You’ve worked with Troy for 20 years, but this was your first game with an entirely new production team. How was that?
Buck: Oh my God. They were excellent. And this is the part you don’t know. We did a practice game here in Seattle a few weeks ago and it was good, but they didn’t have the ability to do replays, at least the ones we wanted. It was sort of a dress rehearsal and so tonight was the first time we really worked under the gun with [producer] Phil [Dean] AND [director] Jimmy [Platt]and it felt like we were making games for a long time, so that part was easy
There wasn’t much clutter in our ears and it was surprisingly simple.
But many times, even in that practice game, I looked to my right and was so grateful that I was on the air; I don’t have to develop a chemistry or understand when the other person wants to talk. If they are rushing me or rushing them. I just felt like after 20 years we adjusted our comments about each other.
AND: Was it weird not having a game on Sunday?
Buck: No, because it was good. They brought a bunch of monitors into a meeting room and we all sat and watched football and I just sat there and did my job. It’s hard for me because if I do the boards on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, which is what I used to do, especially doing games on Thursday and Sunday with the Thursday night game, until Sunday, or in this case, on monday, you forget half the things. So I left a lot of work to do on Sunday, and we all sat around and spent the day watching football, which was fun.
AND: I said on Twitter that no matter what people feel about you and Troy, you guys signal a sense of big game.
Buck: That’s what [ESPN] bought after 20 years. If not, the whole thing is nuts. I’ll give you that. However, it looked like a normal game. I swear to god.
AND: How much did it help you have a wild atmosphere with Russell Wilson returning to Seattle and then the surreal ending?
Buck: Oh my god, it’s custom made. It’s nuts. I mean, it was crazy. I’ve never been caught like that at the end of a game because we’re on camera and you’re just waiting,”Hey, it’s 4th and 5; here it is, y’all, russell wilson. Let’s go on camera.” And you walk away from it and I look down and my stat guy is giving me “64” on a fat chart, and I don’t know what he’s saying. I say, “OK, well that would be a 64-yard field goal,” and I’m like, Holy s—, they’re kicking a field goal. And then, thankfully, Seattle called a timeout so we could reset because it was just like, wow, that’s not why you get Russell Wilson. You want the ball in his hands. This is not despair. With the crowd, the crowd can carry it. There’s nothing I like more than not talking when those things are going on, and I made it pretty clear that when Russell Wilson was done, we weren’t going to talk, and it was time for our producer and director to do their thing, and there’s no nothing better than that. We have a terrible game. I thought Geno Smith turned it down. It was wonderful.
Buck revealed to me that he had a hiccup.
“Trojan’s telestrator did not work. They ordered a new one. He was good. He rolled with it as best Troy can. Everything can’t be perfect.”
2. Speaking of Joe Buck, Aaron Rodgers appeared on the latest episode of Bill Maher’s The casual club podcast and tried to explain it to them Real time submit that there are people out there who have a strong dislike for Buck. Maher was completely taken aback, which made for an amusing exchange.
I asked Buck about this conversation when I spoke with him Monday night.
“I’m so amazed that they went on and on about it. I am beyond honored. I texted Aaron. My old producer, Richie Zyontz, sent it to me and said, ‘I’m sure you’ve seen this by now,’ and I hadn’t. I don’t check Twitter. It was just fine before the game; It was a nice lift to have two people talk like that about me and my career and the things I do. Somebody that’s currently in the field that I’m in a relationship with, but he and I aren’t the best of friends and I’ve never met Bill Maher, so they go on and on, I was like, this is really scary. It was actually nice. It was a beautiful moment on Twitter for me, which is actually rare.”
3. As I said in the main article, I didn’t watch any of the ManningCast on Monday night, but I did see this clip of Peyton going through all the emotions during that disastrous final minute for his former team, and it was awesome.
4. Here’s something that shouldn’t surprise anyone with a modicum of intelligence: A lot of people watched the NFL this weekend. On Sunday night, 25.1 million people watched Tom Brady and the Bucs beat the Cowboys on NBC. It was the most viewed Sunday Night Football opening since 2015.
CBS drew 17.4 million viewers for its 1 p.m. Sunday window, making it the most-watched regional window since 1998.
The Fox doubleheader averaged 15,355,000 viewers, up 11% from last year.
5. As I wrote on Friday, I still can’t believe that a story has been made out of Tom Brady’s play The masked singer. The five-time Super Bowl champion reiterated Monday on his SiriusXM show that, “I don’t know where they’re getting all this stuff. They’ve got to be talking about something. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t masked and I’m not a singer. That wouldn’t really fit my profile. I’m basically good at one thing, which is throwing passes. Besides, I’m basically worthless.”
6. A lot of people seemed to like this post yesterday.
7. This week’s SI Media Podcast features a conversation with play-by-play legend Al Michaels.
The new voice of Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime Video talks about working with Kirk Herbstreit, what the challenges are for Prime Video getting into the NFL business, why it wouldn’t make sense for Amazon to reinvent the wheel and the Thursday night schedule.
Michaels also shares his thoughts on how Tom Brady will fare as a broadcaster, talks about what Aaron Rodgers is like, reveals the criticisms that bother him and reminisces about his early days in broadcasting.
After the interview with Michaels, Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York joins Jimmy for the weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, Jimmy shares his thoughts on legalized gambling websites, Sal talks about a huge mistake he made when he recently attended a Mets game and more.
You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Google.
You can also watch SI Media Podcast on YouTube.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: In honor of Troy Aikman’s telestrator not working last night, here’s when John Madden used his telestrator to make some Aikman improvements.
Make sure that catch up with past issues of Traina Thoughts and look Illustrated Sports Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina at Apple, Spotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy at I tweet, Instagram AND TIK Tok.