Shannon Sharpe, Dan Marino out, Tony Gonzalez in on major CBS pregame shakeup
Well, now. CBS is shaking things up dramatically for its pregame show.
Recently retired (and future Hall of Fame) tight end Tony Gonzalez will be joining the CBS NFL pregame "The NFL Today" show, and longtime fixtures Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe are out, the network confirmed.
The two-for-one switch is interesting. Is there room for another ex-NFLer on the set? For a while last season, it appeared that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan could have been on the chopping block, and perhaps he was one of CBS' main targets. Then again, many believe Peyton Manning would kick off a major broadcasting bidding war once his playing career ends. And there's always Brett Favre, who did some remote TV appearances last season. So perhaps CBS will keep a slimmed-down set for now and make a move on Ryan or Manning or someone else in 2015.
"Having just stepped off the playing field, Tony brings a fresh and insightful perspective," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said. "As a future Hall of Famer, we are excited for him to share his knowledge, experiences and opinions with our viewers. Tony was one of the most respected and hardworking players in the NFL and a tremendous teammate.
Gonzalez recently speculated in an ESPN interview whether he might leave the door slightly open for a comeback late next season, one that the Atlanta Falcons didn't seem to reciprocate. They said they were moving on with the assumption that Gonzalez's playing days were over, and this new broadcasting deal would appear to confirm that. But you'd have to think that CBS required some kind of written guarantee that Gonzalez doesn't bolt the set in Week 11 if he gets the itch to play again.
“While we welcome Tony, we want to acknowledge Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe who have contributed greatly to the success of The NFL Today for more than a decade," McManus said. “Dan and Shannon are true Hall of Famers on the field and in front of the camera. As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank them for their hard work and dedication and wish them nothing but the best."
Sharpe, who had been with the network since 2004, had been known as an outspoken talking head on the show, and he added an edge to the discussion, even if his style wasn't universally loved. He likely will be picked up by another network because of his visibility.
One of the all-time great quarterbacks, Marino had been with CBS since 2002. Cue the talk of him returning to the Miami Dolphins in some form? Marino was named the team's senior vice president 10 years ago but resigned quickly thereafter, citing that the role was not best for him. Still, a return to the only pro team he has known has been speculated for years.
The well-spoken Gonzalez has appeared to be a natural for such a job, but there will be pressure to be camera-ready quickly because of this major shakeup on the set.
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill
If this helps cut down on amount of fake laughter on the CBS set, I'm all for it. Marino and Sharpe seemed to be the two weak links analysis-wise, so this could be addition by subtraction, though it remains to be seen how good Gonzalez is at being a talking head.
"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." --- Bart Giamatti, on baseball