Team ESPN adds a middle linebacker

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.”

46 responses to “Team ESPN adds a middle linebacker

  1. That list is tiered, though. Kordell Stewart and Tim Hasselbeck have a lot more to worry about that Jaws and Ditka.

  2. Yeah almost all of them suck. Eric Allen is okay, Bruschi is okay and will give insight once in a while, JAWS is good, Edwards is so-so, Ismail is good on college gameday when he is on (That is Ismail, right?). The rest either suck, really suck or I didn’t even knew worked at ESPN and therefore cannot say whether is good or bad (Brown, Stewart)

  3. “That’s 21. One short of an all-22 arrangement. And Jon Gruden can serve as the coach.”
    And Millen is the G.M..! No wonder why ESPN sucks so bad…!

  4. “Frankly, it’s hard not to wonder whether ESPN’s goal is quantity not quality. ”
    That’s an easy answer. Quantity. BSPN’s NFL coverage has sucked for over a decade now. Once the NFL network is on every cable and satellite provider in the U.S., the NFL should pull the plug on ESPN for good.

  5. I’ll stop flipping to listen to Hoge, Jaws, Stink, Tom Jackson, and Dilfer. Any of the rest, I keep on surfing.

  6. Same thing as many other businesses. Military contractors hire retired top officers, lobbying firms hire retired/disgraced politicians, etc. Good way to guarantee cooperation now once they figure out that it gets them future (well compensated) employment.

  7. …and since he’s a former Giant, they wont even have to teach him that, as an hee-heespn football analyst, you HAVE to diss The Cowboys. There’s an inate hatred already.

  8. And once Ray Lewis retires, the idiots at ESPN will hire this loser. And then I will never watch ESPN again. How is Ray Lewis never mentioned with the worst of the worst?

  9. “Frankly, it’s hard not to wonder whether ESPN’s goal is quantity not quality.”
    Poeple have been saying this about PFT and its need to comment on every story ever produced by other writers and things like the PFT segments.
    But we figured it was in Florio’s contract that he do X amount of items each day- quality not mettering.

  10. ESPN. The new TMZ! What a farce this Lebron James “special” will be tonight! There a sham! Steve Young is a moron, killed the draft day coverage with his yapping and pronouncing Miles Austin as Austin Miles, TWICE!! Jaworski, Ditka, Woodson, and Gruden are the only ones I can stomach. The rest blow!!

  11. NFL Network is sooo much better. It’s the first channel I tune into everyday when I get home from work. Woodson, Dukes, Eisen, M. Lombardi, M. Faulk. Solid line up.

  12. For the most part ESPN sucks, but if they get rid of Mark Schlereth and Tom Jackson, it might make it a little easier to watch. Right now, Bruschi, Jaws, and even Keyshawn are the only ones worth listening to.

  13. Desmond Howard doesnt do Pro but he is employed by ESPN. Along with a couple others I believe.

  14. Love Golic…..on Mike and Mike, not on NFL shows!
    Jaws is, without a doubt, the best person to analyze a QB on any of the NFL affiliate networks (ESPN, FOX, CBS, NFLN, NBC) Simms on CBS is a distant 2nd, but still good.
    I like Tom Jackson and Gruden…that’s about it.
    That’s why I watch NFLN over anything else.

  15. @ dietrich43
    Have to disagree with Jackson and Stink. They both suck IMO.
    90% of what Stink says we should expect to see in a game doesn’t happen and Tom Jackson is little more than the guy who laughs at everything Berman says.
    Dilfer and Hodge are okay I guess. Jaws is really good, guy actually does his homework.

  16. What would you expect from the network that declared Steve Philips an “expert” analyst after he buried the Mets with his “expert” transactions.

  17. Personally, I would love to see a double commentary consisting of Emmit Smiff and Mike Tyson….could you imagine?

  18. I mean Drew Bennett on First Take.
    Either way, the show’s overrated (especially Skip Bayless, but I digress).

  19. Remember than Antonio Pierce briefly interned for the Howard Stern show — he has media experience!

  20. DONT CARE! Dont watch BSPN!
    NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio are the only way to follow/Watch NFL News.
    F! BSPN

  21. for my dime, take me back to the days when the talking heads did a couple post-game interviews, ran the highlights and told me if anyone got hurt. i know enough about the game of football that I don’t need or want a dozen different “personalities” all attempting to tell me what I’m going to see (pre-game babble) or what I just saw (post-game babble). the same people that complain about the games lasting too long willingly sit through these endless bookends around the games. i suppose it’s the ‘fantasy football’ factor, which i could care less about.

  22. ESPN sucks major balls, but NFL Network isn’t far behind. Total Access is terrible. Who wants to watch Rich Eisen acting like a f’n 5 year old while surrounded by a completely moronic cast of Warren Sapp, Jamie Dukes, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin. These guys never know what they are talking about

  23. “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.”
    So it’s fair to say T.O. won’t be appearing on NFL Live or MNF as an analyst any time soon?

  24. Qadry Ismail was very intelligent and well spoken; I really hope he lands somewhere.
    He’s too good for ESPN.

  25. Warren Sapp is the worst aspect of NFL Network. He’s incapable of saying anything without widening his eyes and furiously shaking his head from left to right.

  26. i hope pierce has the mental speed to keep up with the other announcers,god almighty he didn’t have any on the football field.

  27. I can’t wait until Hines Ward retires and joins ESPN. Florio and Rosenthal will contradict themselves and gush about what a great decision it was by ESPN.

  28. More Football players taking Broadcasting jobs? Yo Peirce, Bruschi, get out of ESPN, just because your a former player don’t mean you can be an analyst. I went to broadcasting school so I could get a degree to one day be an NFL Analyst myself, and it seems instead of taking chance on someone young, BSPN just adds old players.
    Go Away and give the young college kids who go to school to be an analyst a shot, I’m pretty sure there are people like me who can be better analyst than the former players.

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