CBS Sports is making some big moves at its signature pro football studio show, signing 10-time All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez as an NFL Today analyst.
Beginning this fall, Gonzalez joins NFL Today veterans James Brown, Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason in CBS’ New York studios. With Gonzalez in the lineup, CBS has elected not to renew the contracts of long-time NFL Today contributors Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus acknowledged that Marino and Sharpe would not return for the 2014-15 NFL campaign.
“As they pursue other professional opportunities, we thank Dan and Shannon for their hard work and dedication,” McManus said. “We wish them nothing but the best.”
Marino put in 12 years behind the NFL Today desk, while Sharpe has been a fixture on the pre-game show since 2004.
Sharpe broke the news to his 70,800+ Twitter followers earlier this afternoon, saying that he would “not be a part of the NFL Today on CBS this fall.” Marino hasn’t tweeted since Feb. 9.
According to John Ourand of SportsBusiness Daily, CBS is zeroing in on another new analyst to round out the 2014 roster, although it’s too early to identify the candidate. (Having been approached by every NFL TV partner, Gonzalez may have been the most sought-after new broadcast talent in recent memory. That said, the day Peyton Manning announces his retirement will redefine the idiomatic use of the term “feeding frenzy.”)
Gonzalez graduated from Cal Berkeley in 1997 with a degree in communications. The Kansas City Chiefs picked him in the first round of that year’s NFL draft.
CBS hopes that Gonzalez and the analyst-to-be-named-later will help bolster NFL Today’s ratings. Last season, the studio show averaged around 3.3 million viewers per week, trailing the top-rated Fox NFL Sunday broadcasts (4.8 million) by 31 percent.
In addition to his NFL Today duties, Gonzalez will appear on Showtime’s Inside the NFL as well as CBS Sports Network’s That Other Pregame Show.
“Having just stepped off the playing field, Tony brings a fresh and insightful perspective,” McManus said. “We are excited for him to share his knowledge, experiences and opinions with our viewers. Tony was one of the most respected and hardworking players in the NFL and a tremendous teammate. We look forward to him bringing these attributes to CBS Sports.”