At this point in his career, Joe Buck has strong job security, but even the renowned play-by-play voice knows no position at ESPN is ever entirely safe.
Buck joined The Michael Kay Show on 98.7 ESPN New York Monday afternoon to preview the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills facing off on ESPN’s first Monday Night Football matchup of the NFL season. Near the start of the interview, Kay noted Buck and Troy Aikman impressively embarking on their 22nd year together as broadcast partners this season.
22 seasons together will see Buck and Aikman surpass John Madden and Pat Summerall as the longest-tenured announcing duo in NFL history. But don’t start planning to throw them a party just yet. Buck was quick to temper any celebrations to commemorate the looming accomplishment, even though it seems inevitable.
“It’s ESPN, we could be fired tomorrow,” Joe Buck pic.twitter.com/mPuSpntet9
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 11, 2023
“We’ve enjoyed our time together, we’re the best of friends,” Buck said of his tenure with Aikman. “That relationship and that partnership is what it’s all about. So, we’re lucky that we have gotten to do it this long and I think we only break the record if we finish the year. We haven’t broken it yet. And you know, it’s ESPN, we could be fired tomorrow.”
Yikes. That feels like a shot at the bludgeoning ESPN underwent just two months ago when the network laid off some of its high-profile talent. And last month, the downsizing at ESPN continued when they moved on from senior VP of production Lee Fitting, who contributed to Monday Night Football. Fitting’s fate occurred after there was reportedly friction between the MNF production staff and Aikman, which may have also influenced a behind-the-scenes restructuring that took place earlier this year. Regardless, it’s only his second season with ESPN after spending more than a quarter-century with Fox and Buck appears operating with a lot of confidence.
“Too soon,” The Michael Kay Show co-host Don La Greca aptly chimed in after Buck’s joke.
There aren’t many ESPN personalities who would be willing to joke about the company’s recent turnover rate. And there might be even fewer ESPN personalities who can survive making a joke about the company’s recent turnover rate. This is the “freedom” Dan Le Batard used to seek from ESPN, the kind of freedom that maybe only Buck, Stephen A. Smith, and Pat McAfee hold.
“If I made that same comment today, I think I’d be asked to leave,” Kay said. “I don’t think Mr. [Jimmy] Pitaro is taking Buck aside today.”