Like Travis Henry’s heirs, the folks at ESPN continue to have enough former NFL players to field a football team of their own.
And they’ve added a new middle linebacker.
Former Giants standout Antonio Pierce, who a year ago at this time was sweating out a possible indictment for taking possession of the gun with which Plaxico Burress blew a hole (actually, two) through his leg and transporting it from New York back to New Jersey, has joined ESPN as an NFL analyst.
Pierce will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, and 1050
ESPN New York, and he’ll provide weekly analysis on ESPNNewYork.com.
Currently, the lineup of former NFL players on ESPN includes Pierce, Eric Allen, Lomas Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Cris Carter, Trent Dilfer, Mike Ditka, Herm Edwards, Mike Golic, Tim Hasselbeck, Merril Hoge, Qadry Ismail, Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski, Keyshawn Johnson, Matt Millen, Mark Schlereth, Kordell Stewart, Marcellus Wiley, Darren Woodson, and Steve Young.
That’s 21. One short of an all-22 arrangement. And Jon Gruden can serve as the coach.
Of course, the number won’t stay at 21. Freshly-retired players have a certain sizzle. With each new former player who gets a job, a guy whose football career has faded into the rear-view mirror will be on the chopping block.
Indeed, ESPN quietly has shed in the past year James Hasty and Shaun King.
We’ll close with an observation we made last year, when Tedy Bruschi opted for Bristol: “Frankly, it’s hard not to wonder whether ESPN’s goal is quantity not
quality. If nothing else, the fact that so many former players and
coaches have gotten jobs at ESPN might cause the many other players and
coaches who believe broadcasting to be the ideal ‘money for nothing’
career path after the NFL is finished with them to never criticize ESPN,
for fear of blowing their shot to work there.”
The army of analysts also prevents any one of them from ever building up the kind of profile that would give them real leverage when the time comes to work out a new contract. And it likely has enabled ESPN to hold firm in the face of whatever exorbitant salary demand someone like, say, Kurt Warner has made.
UPDATE: ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer advises that Ismail no longer is part of Team ESPN. The network’s media website says otherwise. Either way, they’re down to 20. “ESPN is a 24/7 news operation that covers the NFL year-round on multiple platforms,” Hofheimer said. “It’s only natural we would have a deep roster of analysts, insiders, reporters, etc. The positions on our roster go well beyond just NFL Sundays. We have been fortunate to attract a lot of talented analysts and that helps us better serve football fans.”