19 July 2014

How close was Mike Shanahan to joining the NFL on Fox?

(AP Photo)
Of all the questions that people ask me on this blog of late, "Why haven't the Fox commentator crews been announced yet for 2014?" seems to be a popular one. After all, CBS announced their crews a month ago but there has been no dice yet for Fox. It is important to note that Fox did not announce their crews for 2013 until August but could they actually be behind schedule? A chance encounter between WJFK-FM's Grant Paulsen and Fox Sports' Dick Stockton at Philadelphia International Airport may suggest just that with Stockton saying he was not certain who his partner was going to be this year after it looked like he would be working with none other than fired Washington coach Mike Shanahan.

Here is the money exchange:
And then I [Paulsen] said, 'Hey, what broadcast team are you on this year?'
And he [Stockton]'s like, 'What do you mean?'
I said, 'Well, who you working with?'
And he's like, 'Well, that's a great question.' He's like, 'Normally I know by now.' He's like, 'I'm not really sure, yet.
...
And he says, 'I was supposed to be working with Mike Shanahan, but it doesn't sound like he wants to do it anymore.' 
Paulsen then said he contacted someone in Shanahan's camp and was told that Shanahan "will not be calling games on Fox."

I found it telling that Stockton still does not appear to know who his partner will be this fall. Of course, Stockton worked with Ronde Barber, who was making his debut in the broadcast booth, but Barber will now be moving up and working with Chris Myers. And while I can see why Fox would be interested in Shanahan, he was a pretty successful with a pair of rings and spent the last few years coaching a marquee NFC team, but a Stockton-Shanahan pairing could have been a trainwreck. I discussed yesterday on Fanatic Radio how far Stockton has fallen and Shanahan never struck me as having the kind of charismatic personality that could make him a compelling TV personality.

So who will Stockton work with? There are some potential candidates from within Fox: Heath Evans (who has spent the last couple of seasons working with Sam Rosen and has done a decent job), Randy Moss (who was excellent in the studio and thus may be too valuable there to move into the booth), Brian Urlacher (likewise), Scott Fujita (another guy that was good in the studio and the one I think is the most likely of the former Fox Football Daily guys to move into the booth) or perhaps somebody else. They may pull the recent retiree route as they did when they brought in former Giants lineman David Diehl, who will work with Thom Brennaman.

But the question has to be asked, what the hell was Fox thinking when they dumped Brian Billick?

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