Don La Greca, Michael Kay and Peter Rosenberg on The Michael Kay Show Photo credit: YES Network

After it was announced that Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms were being replaced on The NFL Today by Matt Ryan, Michael Kay wondered why CBS opted for the shakeup.

Kay spent a good portion of his Monday afternoon ESPN New York radio show discussing the CBS decision with co-hosts Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg. And as Kay wondered why The NFL Today moved on from Esiason and Simms after more than two decades each, the 63-year-old Yankees play-by-play voice hoped the former quarterbacks weren’t victims of age discrimination by CBS.


“Boomer’s been there 22 years, Phil 26 years,” Kay noted. “I hope CBS buttoned everything up. Because if you’re getting rid of guys just because of their age, you’re going to get yourself in trouble. Can’t fire somebody because of their age.”

La Greca noted, “You could work around it,” implying age can quietly factor into the decision without it being the reason CBS made their move.

“I guess they’re going to have to work around it,” Kay added. “Because isn’t it strange that the two guys who are older got fired? Now they can say, ‘Well James Brown’s in his 70s, we’re bringing him back.’”

Esiason is the same age as Kay, 63 years old, while Simms is 68. CBS moved on from Esiason and Simms, but as Kay noted, they retained James Brown, who is 73 years old. And while Brown’s role as studio host is vastly different from that of the analysts on The NFL Today, CBS also kept Bill Cowher who turns 67 next month. With Brown and Cowher staying, the concern of ageism contributing to Esiason and Simms’ departures doesn’t appear to equate.

Did the prospect of getting younger on their NFL studio show through the addition of Matt Ryan appeal to CBS? Probably. But it seems like a stretch to assume the decision was influenced by age discrimination.

During the announcement that he will not be returning to The NFL Today this season, Esiason spoke very highly of CBS and everyone he worked with over the years. The tone probably would have been different if the former NFL MVP believed he was being discriminated against. Esiason, however, also made sure to note stepping away from The NFL Today was “more their decision than maybe mine,” implying he would have liked to stay under the right circumstances.

Those circumstances may have been right if Sean McManus was still at the helm of CBS Sports. But with McManus retiring, his successor David Berson probably wanted to put his stamp on the network and their lead NFL studio show. And with Esiason and Simms coming off expiring contracts, it was easier for Berson to jump into making changes this NFL offseason.

Even without CBS responsibilities every Sunday morning during the NFL season, Esiason has no plans of retiring from the media landscape any time soon. In addition to announcing the news that he was departing The NFL Today, Esiason also announced he signed a long-term contract extension to continue his No. 1 rated morning show alongside co-host Gregg Giannotti on WFAN.

[The Michael Kay Show]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com