Posted February 18, 2014

CBS brings on Tony Gonzalez, drops Dan Marino, Shannon Sharpe in shakeup

NFL media
Tony Gonzalez made 14 Pro Bowl appearances in 17 seasons in the NFL.

Tony Gonzalez made 14 Pro Bowl appearances in 17 seasons in the NFL. (Dave Martin/AP)

SOCHI, Russia – One of the most challenging things for former athletes transitioning to sports broadcasting is to fully excise themselves from their former teammates and coaches. But Tony Gonzalez, who was officially announced by CBS Sports on Tuesday as an analyst for The NFL Today pregame show, Showtime’s Inside The NFL and the CBS Sports Network’s Sunday pregame show (That Other Pregame Show), plans on being critical when criticism is warranted.

“When you are playing, at least for me the way I approached it, I wasn’t going to be that player calling people out,” Gonzalez told SI.com on Tuesday. “Not really calling people out, but more telling the whole truth. Because I don’t believe in that while you are playing; it just doesn’t make sense because we are in that fraternity. But now that I am done, I am going to say exactly what is on my mind. I’m not there to go out and kill players, but if I believe something is true, I am going to say it and not hold back on it. It’s an opportunity to really speak up on issues and I’m going to be as fair as possible and hopefully make some good points people are interested in hearing.”

The hiring of the recently retired Gonzalez gives CBS something NFL-airing networks crave — currency. Gonzalez retired in January after 17 years as a tight end and is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns (111) and yards (15,127) by a tight end.

“It’s [broadcasting] something that I didn’t want to do up until about three years ago,” Gonzalez said. “I was always one of those players who said when I get done playing I’m going to detach myself from everything and spend time with my family every day. But about three years ago I started to think more about retirement and I started to do more television and I said to myself: ‘This is fun.’ What a great way for me to stay connected to the game and give back to the game. I don’t take this for granted at all. The jobs are hard to get and I am happy to get this one.”

CBS dually announced that Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe — two longtime staffers on its pregame show — were not being retained. The new cast of The NFL Today is current host James Brown and analysts Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason and Gonzalez. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told Sports Business Daily media reporter John Ourand on Tuesday that the network is in the process of hiring another analyst soon, but added that deal was not ready to be announced yet.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

Why did Gonzalez choose CBS? He said The NFL Today was the show he watched most and that the fit with other staffers felt comfortable. His multi-year deal has been set for a couple of months. “I felt like they wanted me more than the other places I was talking to” said Gonzalez, who was courted by multiple outlets. “It was kind of a no-brainer when it came down to it to be on the main desk right away.”

Gonzalez cited many former players-turned broadcasters that he admires, including Esiason, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth and Fox’s Michael Strahan. “It’s those type of guys I am looking to model myself after if I can,” Gonzalez said. “I know that is reaching pretty high and I know it will take awhile to be as comfortable as they are and to articulate my thoughts as well as those guys do.”

Last month ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter re-signed a multi-year deal with ESPN after he was courted by CBS to be a part of Showtime’s Inside The NFL show and possibly The NFL Today. There has been serious chatter among industry sources for months about CBS blowing up the current group on The NFL Today, including rumors of Gonzalez joining CBS. Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead connected a lot of the dots in this Jan. 15 post.

Why the changes? Outside of Marino and Sharpe’s contracts being up, CBS Sports management knows Fox NFL Sunday continues to increase its ratings lead over The NFL Today. As I noted for The MMQB last month, Fox NFL Sunday averaged 4.8 million viewers, up four percent in audience over last year and 39 percent higher than CBS’ The NFL Today. Certainly, the pregame show with the NFC package (bigger cities) is going to win the noon pregame battle no matter what, but CBS needs to gain more of an audience for The NFL Today. The network brought in a new lead producer (Drew Kaliski) for the show last May and new producers often want to shape the show in their own image. That happens now.

152 comments
MicrenH
MicrenH

I love Dan and CBS will regret letting him GO!!!  I agree 100% with brunoboyzzz comment: Gonzales with no RING!!! Doesn't make sense when the time comes to talk Super-Bowl. I cant wait to see the madhouse to get P.Manning when his retirement comes

JackHoff
JackHoff

They better stock up on the eye makeup

brunoboyzzz
brunoboyzzz

It doesn't matter what CBS does... their Sunday morning crew will always be 2nd rate. And I would say Sharpe was destined to be cut after tearing into CBS President Les Moonves' darling NE Patriots coach Bill Belicheck 2 seasons ago for not doing an interview after the Ravens thumped them n the AFC Championship. (Though he was spot on!) I'm sure they nevr forgot that.

As for Dan... well; he was actually the one being "replaced". But why replace him with another non SB winning player? It's no wonder their ratings stink. No one wants to listen to someone who doesn't know what it takes to win. I mean anyone can just guess! LOL

Anaximenes1
Anaximenes1

a new group of "experts" to sit around a semicircle and spend hours "breaking down" games and making predictions that never come out

Mrt1212Bea
Mrt1212Bea

The real problem is, they HAVE to get rid of that HIDEOUS theme music, played before EVERY show, game, commercial break, RETURNING from  the commercial break, graphic, and every time one of the countless panelist burps! Also, sacking Boomer from this would help, and leave him to one of his other 4 jobs, would be no great loss, either!

David T. Martin Sr.
David T. Martin Sr.

CBS really put their foot in it this time! Shannon Sharpe was the reason many fans watched the NFL today. I will now watch ESPN or the NFL network regardless of what Fox does. Shannon Sharpe kept it real and his passion is second to none in the industry, he will be missed. I look forward to catching him another show.

Those who claim they could not understand Shannon don't understand the game, those who speak against his wardrobe don't understand fashion because Shannon Sharpe and Dan Marino was the best dressed on the show but we all mix match once in a while. Much love and respect Shannon!

Gopher100
Gopher100

Finally I can take a chance on NFL Today.  While I would have rather see Marino stay and Cowher leave

at least I won't have to listen to Sharpe's condemnation for anyone outside of Baltimore and be exposed to his "clothing" statement just for TV exposure.

Joel1
Joel1

Fox:  don't need Menefee. Put Strahan in his seat.

CBS: don't need another in addition to Gonzales. Just Tony.

cmaglaughlin
cmaglaughlin

You can't beat Fox. Terry Bradshaw is THE reason why. I'd hope they add another chair just to rub it in with CBS...another Pittsburgh guy...Danny Marino!!! I would not put it past Roger Ailes, fellow OU alum, who lives for this!

jdaneluk@comcast.net
jdaneluk@comcast.net

THE ONE THING I WOULD LIKE TO GET RID OF,BESIDES SHARP,IS ALL THOSE COMMERCIALS

I WONDER HOW A GAME WOULD BE WITH OUT ALL THOSE BREAKS.A LONG,LONG TIME AGO

THEY USE TO HAVE SOME GREAT MARCHING BANDS.

6marK6
6marK6

Don't know how good Gonzalez will be, but Marino and Sharpe are no big loss.

drudown
drudown

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Gonzales and his wife at a charity event in Del Mar, CA years ago when he was with the Chiefs. He was affable, gracious and reverent for the blessings he has in life. I wish him all the best luck.


"But most of all, for the Chargers to be good." 

/s/ Ron Burgundy

Sonnyblac70
Sonnyblac70

Not only could I not understand what Sharpe was saying couldn't take his horse face and tacky suits worse dressed guy on TV sounded like mushmouth from fat Albert..,

Marsh the Great
Marsh the Great

My problem with Shannon Sharpe was that for somebody who talks as loudly and confidently as he does, he is an absolutely dreadful speaker. Not only does he have a bad voice but he has an abhorrent delivery and worst of all, he very, very rarely has anything poignant to contribute. I understand that this isn't high art that we're dealing with but at the very least, I expect to see people who are actually good at speaking on a show where more than half of the time is spent on the analysts having various discussions. 


That said, it really is a shame that Sharpe wasn't as good as he wanted to be because he CLEARLY had a passion for what he was doing. In fact, of all the former players/coaches between the two shows, he was easily the most "into" being an analyst. He just wasn't particularly good at it. 


At least his passion was more than what Marino had to offer. While Marino was an average speaker, he was about as likely to say something poignant as Sharpe, and overall, was pretty boring. It's like he was there but he didn't really contribute anything aside from agreeing with one of the other 4. He did improve as the years went on but he's never really amounted to being more than dead weight with a big name. I'm sure he'll resurface somewhere because of that name but he won't really have much to contribute.


I really do wish Tony Gonzalez the best of look. He's one of the greatest players ever and by most accounts, a hell of a standup guy. Unfortunately, you need to be more than that to be an effective studio host and it remains to be seen whether or not he indeed does. He certainly has "personality," but so did Shannon Sharpe. Always in this red and gold heart though.

DODGERFAIL2013
DODGERFAIL2013

shannon sharpe = worst ever.  marble mouth obnoxious suit wearin chump

Delegator
Delegator

It's hard to believe that people still watch pre-game shows or halftime shows. They are full of so much blather and supposedly humorous banter that they come across more like "The View" than a sports show. Heck, the days of Jimmy the Greek and Phyllis George seem like classics compared to the shows today.

wetmouse
wetmouse

Panic move. Sure, Dan Marino is not very bright. But TonyG is flat out boring. Only losers watch pregame shows, and Faux is the home of the American Loser. Why compete with that?

JasonO'neal1
JasonO'neal1

Now we can expect to hear more about the falcons. Great(not).

tbw27
tbw27

Dan Marino...Im surprised....I always thought sharpe was terrible and he was the reason I never watched the show

RaiderEric
RaiderEric

Congratz to Tony Gonzalez...It's Great to see a former Cal Bear(Go Bears!!!) and future Hall of Famer get the job...I wish u the Best and I hope u are as Awesome on the job as u were at your NFL career...Go Oakland Raiders!!!!

M430
M430

Shannon was the reason I watched CBS on Sunday mornings. I'll watch FOX now. McManus made a mistake and I now dislike McManus more than Terry Bradshaw!

HarshRealities
HarshRealities

I never watch any of the pregame shows where "analysts" babble about mostly nonsense. I just turn on the games when they start. One thing that really annoys me is when the announcers talk about nonsense that has nothing to do about the game being played. Unless the sideline reporter has something of real value to add to the game such as injury updates there is no need to even go there. The 30 second interviews of the HC right before and after halftime are cliche time. The HC isn't going to tell the announcer what changes they will make in the second half.

Jonathan T
Jonathan T

Definitely glad they got rid of  Sharpe.  I couldn't stand hearing him talk thru his nose.  Marino was ok but no big loss there either.  The one that I really wish they would have gotten rid of was Phil Simms.  I would rather listen to the wind blow than to listen to him.  He thinks he knows everything and I just can't stand to listen to him.

Pat11
Pat11

Sharpe had some pretty entertaining calls on that show but didnt know when to be quite. I find Cowher to be bitter and condescending and he should have been gone instead of Marino.

Fallguy2006
Fallguy2006

Thank god , no more Marble Mouth (Sharpe)

Nate Bynum
Nate Bynum

I still wonder how Shannon Sharpe made it as long as he did. Marino was just boring. 

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

Honestly...


I can't and won't watch any of the pre-game drivel. Terry Bradshaw is just one misfired synapse away from blathering like Porky Pig with Tourettes and the rest are either so self-righteously smug it makes me wanna puke in my cereal...


The TV goes on at kick off at my house. Not a moment before, and halftime & post-game is likewise ignored. And sideline reporters? MUTE!

tfaw
tfaw

shannon sharpe  - fantastic athlete.  but an angry, rambling, aggressive analyst that is wholly unwatchable.

asterism1
asterism1

@David T. Martin Sr.  I don't question Shannon Sharpe's knowledge of the game or his passion.  And I loved his Hall of Fame speech and his overall story.   He was a great great player too.

But he was not good in the studio.  I could care less about his wardrobe.  But he was not understandable.  just wasnt.


Not everyone has a voice for television.  I know I don't.  Neither does Shannon Sharpe.


And Marino is a doofus.  Not s a smart guy.

rskins09
rskins09

@Sonnyblac70    To me, Sharpe  was OK but not great  until last season ....Seems like he was constantly pouting  on the show  last year.. In one mid-Nov..broadcast  he didn't say one word the whole  show ..Then he wore that ridiculous, ugly  bow tie for a couple of weeks .. A lot of his bombasts, comments were  right, especially about poor team tackling, poor QB play, and team game plans for example ...Think they canned Dan  for his affair that went public last year, ala  Tiki, know-it-all, Barber  a few years  back ..Boomer is too vanilla, Marino was too quite- really didn't contribute anything  over the years but did improve the last few years .I would have cut, fired Boomer  before  Dan or  Shannon  .. ...   

rskins09
rskins09

@Marsh the Great     I agree  about Tony being a great NFL player -- one of the best ever and hope it follows him into the TV studio ...But who ever though Joe Montana   would have bombed like he did .. I thought Montana would have been a  " can't miss "  on  TV ... He was awful  ...

KevinClugston
KevinClugston

@Delegator Agreed, with the internet and 300 channels why would anyone waste time on the pre-game?  If I wanted to listen to idiots talk over each other I'd turn on the View.

Joel1
Joel1

@tbw27  

Marino.....was he messin' around with The Help again?

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

@HarshRealities I like Fox's pre-game show only for the two to three minute comedy bits with Rob Riggle (and, before that, Frank LastNameReallyHardToSpellAndIDon'tWantToUseGoogleToLookItUp).  Those and the last minute injury updates for Fantasy Football make it the only reason it's on my TV for the other 50 minutes.

KevinClugston
KevinClugston

@HarshRealities The only thing worse than listening to pre-game shows is having to listen to a game where Collinsworth is in the booth.  

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@hubrob107  Weird.  I like Boomer a lot.  I feel as if he actually has a lot of things to say, very little of which is the same tired NFL cliches.

HalGreer
HalGreer

@Jonathan T Jonathan--thank you, thank you, thank you.  Finally someone points out the absolute uselessness of Phil "Good Job" Simms, whose vocabulary is so limited he is reduced to saying some form of "good job" after every play.  Guy needs to go.

Sonnyblac70
Sonnyblac70

I just laughed so hard woke up my wife exactly what we do!! Lmfaooooooooo

asterism1
asterism1

@BosephHeyden @HarshRealities  

Frank Caliendo is....NOT FUNNY.  EVER.   Fox dumped him and the chumps over at ESPN signed him for some reason.   enough already.   He has the lamest, most stale act in show business.


asterism1
asterism1

@Bearsclone @hubrob107  


I like Chris Berman.  Guy knows his stuff and still has the passion.   Tom Jackson, on the other hand has jumped the shark.

DougWilder
DougWilder

@Bearsclone @hubrob107  I think Boomer's problem is that he doesn't suffer fools gladly so a lot of people think he has a bad attitude. But I agree with you Boomer is great and probally the smartest analyst on any of the major pregame shows from the admittedly small sample I've watched. 

Bearsclone
Bearsclone

@mlf1303 @Jonathan T  If you really listen to what Simms says, there's not much content there.  He's a friendly, upbeat guy who obviously has huge credentials as a former player, but I don't feel like he tells me much as a regular consumer of the NFL.