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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 thrilled for Aikman since he has been a fan and a friend of the former Cowboys quarterback for years.

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

“That was gone,” Herbstreit told The Post.

The ESPN NFL door closed because of Aikman, but it left a package on his front door. 

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

This fall, Amazon Prime Video will be the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football” and it strived to put together a very credible top broadcast team. Michaels wanted Aikman next to him in the booth.

With Aikman off the board, Amazon pivoted quickly to Herbstreit, wrapping up a deal that will pay him $10-plus million per year. 

Herbstreit also, according to sources, picked up a three-year ESPN extension on top of the two years that were already on his contract. It means Herbstreit will stay on “College Football GameDay” and as the No. 1 college game analyst, calling the National Championship for the next five years – with a raise. Herbstreit will also continue to have a key role in ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage.

Kirk Herbstreit talks with UCLA coach Chip Kelly on Oct. 23, 2021
Kirk Herbstreit talks with UCLA coach Chip Kelly on Oct. 23, 2021
Getty Images

On top of the finances – Herbstreit is at least in the Aikman $18 million per year neighborhood (he declined comment) – Herbstreit is excited to work in the NFL with Michaels and lead producer Fred Gaudelli on Amazon Prime Video.

“It’s going to be an incredible broadcast and I’m going to do everything I can to hold up my end of the bargain and try to make it one of the best booths in television,” Herbstreit, 52, said.

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

On Wednesday, Amazon made the official announcement of Michaels and Herbstreit as its lead broadcast team with Gaudelli as its producer. It will also have still-to-be-determined alternative feeds that fans can choose to view, as well. 

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

Though Michaels and Herbstreit do not know each other, Herbstreit does fit the experienced analyst mold that Michaels preferred. The only knock on Herbstreit is that he is a “college guy.” 

What is lost in that “college guy” conversation is that Amazon is not hiring a quarterback. If that were the case, it could have gone with NBC’s Drew Brees, who had the second most yards passing in NFL history. 

Instead, it is hiring a broadcaster, which means the fact Herbstreit never threw an NFL pass really doesn’t matter that much once the red light on the cameras goes on. 

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

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

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

While making tens of millions of dollars to call games is far from digging ditches, it is a big lift to prepare for Thursday night NFL football, a full “College GameDay” show on Saturday mornings and then a nationally televised game on Saturday night.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be monumental,” Herbstreit said. “For four months, I’m not really going to have any days off.”

The NFL will enter a new era in the fall with Amazon streaming games. It will be a significant step in how we view the sport. 

Amazon will be the only way a fan will be able to watch these matchups nationally, though, if say the Jets or Giants are on a given week, it will be on regular TV in the local market.

For Herbsreit, the post-Aikman news has worked out pretty well. He will remain on ESPN, calling top college football games and on the iconic GameDay, while now adding the NFL. He described joining Amazon as a “groundbreaking” opportunity. 

“You’re looking for that next challenge to kind of invigorate yourself and get yourself excited about, and this is going to be a big challenge,” Herbstreit said.

Source: NYPOST

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