Who is the top dog at ESPN? It’s a topic we’ve bounced around on this website before asking who the face of the network is and it’s franchise player. But maybe the cold, hard facts say that the person who makes the most bank should be at the top of the food chain.
So just who does make the most money at ESPN? Perhaps it’s a topic that you’ve thought about in your own mind or debated about with friends. Knowing that Stephen A. Smith makes a couple million per year (more than the average NFL player) means that ESPN is splashing the cash like George Steinbrenner back in the day. There are several personalities who just re-signed lengthy contracts who could and should be in that range – Davis, Fowler, Bilas, Herbstreit, Van Pelt, etc.
But according to ESPN scribe Jim Miller – there’s one man that stands above the pack…
Miller tweeted this last night, revealing that Gruden makes around $6.5 million per year, the highest paid salary for an on-air personality.
— jamesmiller (@JimMiller) September 29, 2015
NOW WE KNOW why Jon Gruden has resisted all those coaching rumors to stay at ESPN and not return to the sidelines… he’s making more money! Gruden earned just over $4 million in Tampa Bay during his last coaching stop and recently signed a new extension on ESPN that keeps him on Monday Night Football through 2021.
That’s a pretty exorbitant salary for a football analyst. Given Gruden works the MNF season, QB Camp, and the Draft, that’s not a bad deal for what amounts to a half year’s TV work.
We talk a lot about rising rights fees and cord cutting for reasons why ESPN is making another round of layoffs and slashing costs left and right, but these mega multi-million dollar salaries for high-profile TV talent are just as good a reason as any.