The longer Peyton Manning plays hard to get, the more ESPN and Fox Sports are willing to pay him, sources tell Sporting News. Both networks are so hungry for Manning to call their respective "Monday Night Football" and "Thursday Night Football" games that they're willing to pay him up to $10 million annually. That's virtually unheard of for an NFL color analyst. ESPN's former Monday Night Football analyst, Jon Gruden, was the network's highest-paid employee at $6.5 million year as of 2015, according to author Jim Miller. But these are not normal times for ESPN, Fox or the NFL. The NFL's TV ratings fell 9.7% during the 2017 season following an 8% slide the year before. The league has lost one out of every four TV viewers in just two years. Both ESPN and Fox are looking to shore up their respective MNF and TNF primetime packages. By himself, Manning could bring back viewers who've turned off the NFL — and lure casual viewers curious to hear his TV take. The affable Manning has proven his consumer appeal on "Saturday Night Live" and in countless ad campaigns for Madison Avenue. The two-time Super Bowl champion is renowned for his football acumen and legendary work ethic. But Manning also is interested in a John Elway/Derek Jeter-type role in which he runs/owns a sports franchise. The longer Hamlet takes to make up his mind, the higher goes his price tag. Manning finds himself at a golden moment where the NFL's TV partners need the ex-Broncos/Colts quarterback more than he needs them. The superlative performance of rookie CBS analyst Tony Romo has encouraged CBS' competitors to swing for the fences on big talent hires, said a source.
Sources: ESPN, Fox willing to pay Peyton Manning $10 million a year
Sporting News | Mar 7