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  • Ben Drain

Peyton's Getting Paid

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

In my first blog of the school year, I addressed the impending contract negotiations for Tony Romo. Tony Romo was in the final year of his contract, earning a comparatively measly $4 million. Sources were saying that Romo was searching for a deal paying him an annual total of $10 million. Recently, Romo’s new deal was announced, and I thought it was a typo. Tony Romo, who only made $127 million in his entire playing career, signed a deal of up to 10 years, totaling $170 million. I was tentative to admit that Romo was worth $10 million per year, but I was able to see some of the benefits, namely his incredible ability to predict offensive plays. This is a skill not too many people on the planet have, let alone in the broadcast booth calling NFL games for millions of viewers…at least for now.

Immediately after the news of Romo’s new deal, reports surfaced of ESPN’s plan to bring in Peyton Manning as one of the Monday Night Football commentators. Easily one of the top quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton has already transitioned into media following his prolific career. Manning has a history of working with ESPN on his series, “Peyton’s Places,” on ESPN+. Peyton had previously turned down broadcasting opportunities, so his connection to ESPN may come as a shock to some, but the price tag associated with the former Colts and Broncos quarterback may be even more jaw-dropping. Manning is reportedly being offered a deal in the $18-20 million range. I’m as big a fan of Manning as the next guy, arguably more so due to being surrounded by Colts fans my whole life, but these numbers are getting a bit insane.

There were many reactions from around the NFL, but I think OBJ sums up the consensus pretty well.

As the revenue in sports has skyrocketed, and the associated salaries do so as well, it's easy to lose context. A Romo or Manning-like broadcasting deal is only a bad deal for their companies if their costs exceed the benefits of hiring them. However, when reflecting upon my viewing habits of the NFL, I don’t find myself determining which game I view based on the broadcaster. For this reason, I struggle to understand the draw of paying such astronomical sums for a person that has a marginal impact on viewership. If Romo were to get the $10 million deal theorized just six months ago, I could understand it. If Peyton Manning were to get $11 or $12 million, I’d get it (so what if I think he’s more entertaining than Romo, sue me).

Outside of Manning and Romo, the next highest-paid broadcaster is Troy Aikman, who makes $7.5 million a year. Whether or not Peyton Manning will draw $12 million more in viewership for Monday Night Football than their status quo partnership of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland is arguable. I think for the first season, Peyton will definitely bring in viewers that otherwise wouldn’t have watched. Whether or not this will be sustainable, especially for the duration of a long-term contract, I have my doubts. This is no slight on Peyton, I know he’ll be fantastic, I just fail to see such a substantive difference in my viewing experience between the best commentator and the worst. Besides, part of the fun of watching sports is making fun of the bad commentators.

Maybe Peyton Manning will change my opinion on the matter, and it’s not even a guarantee that we see him in the booth on Monday nights this season, but I do see it as an inevitability. Whenever it is that Manning decides to grace my TV screen, whichever day of the week he chooses, I know one thing: Tony Romo’s reign of NFL broadcaster superiority will come to an end.


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