If you had asked us to name some NFL figures who would make compelling studio analysts, John Fox probably would not have cracked the list. The former Panthers, Broncos and Bears coach is known for being even-keeled and plainspoken in front of the camera, saying what he has to during press conferences and interviews but not too much more. He’s not Bill Belichick or anything, but nor his he Mike Ditka.
Well, some network executives appear to think differently.
On Tuesday, Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reported that two and a half months after being fired by the Bears, Fox will join ESPN as a studio analyst. As Deitsch points out, the network has a studio vacancy after the departure of Herm Edwards and could create another opening if it promotes Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, or Louis Riddick to the Monday Night Football broadcast booth. ESPN might consider Fox a natural replacement for Edwards given that both offer a coach’s perspective amid a lineup of mostly former players.
Even if Fox doesn’t seem to have a vivacious, TV-friendly personality, he does have loads of football experience. The 63-year-old spent four decades in coaching, including about 32 years at the NFL level and 16 as a head coach. He won an NFL championship with the Panthers and an AFC title with the Broncos, and his career record stands at a healthy 133-123. Having coached everyone from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning, he’s surely got some stories to tell.
Besides, not everyone on TV can always be jumping up and down and shouting. Every studio show can use a straight man, and in the end the most important qualification for talking about football on TV is knowledge of the game and ability to communicate it. So although we did not see Fox’s television career coming, we will keep an open mind now that it is here.