Tony Gonzalez made his retirement from the NFL pretty official on Tuesday. CBS announced they had reached a deal to add the former Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs tight end to their NFL Today team. Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe are out, with no new jobs waiting for them yet.
The move to sign Tony Gonzalez comes as something of a surprise, considering he is fresh off the playing field and has little experience as an analyst. But experience is not something CBS has often looked for in their pre-game show for the NFL On CBS. They have utilized a format of one professional studio man surrounded by former players and coaches for years. CBS believes Gonzalez has the personality, charisma, and intelligence to add depth to its programming. Sports Chairman Sean McManus said in a statement:
“As a future Hall of Famer, we are excited for him to share his knowledge, experiences and opinions with our viewers. Tony was one of the most respected and hardworking players in the NFL and a tremendous teammate. We look forward to him bringing these attributes to CBS Sports.”
The replacement of both Marino and Sharpe leaves huge questions. Is the network trying to scale back the number of talking heads on the show? Sharpe was known for stirring up trouble and fumbling through play by plays on highlight reels. He made up for a lack skill by being loud. Marino was more of a calming presence on the NFL Today show, but would mix it up with Boomer Esiason from time to time.
There is some speculation that Tony Gonzalez could be joined by a former head coach, like Bill Cowher who currently represents the coaching side of things. Gonzalez is known for having an intelligent cool about him, so they may be looking to add a big personality.
CBS has been very aggressive this off-season in trying to increase their NFL presence. Recently they announced a deal to bring Thursday Night Football games to their station in a collaboration with the NFL Network.
While the network says they are not hanging the combo of Marino and Sharpe out to dry, it certainly feels that way. They have heavy competition with the team of Bradshaw, Long, Johnson, and newcomer Michael Strahan. Keeping things fresh can be a challenge at times and this move by CBS seems to be all about infusing some fresh perspective. It will be interesting to see who they add.
After being replaced by Tony Gonzalez, I looked back at Shannon Sharpe’s last CBS broadcast & found a hidden message. pic.twitter.com/b1FzS2SHNB
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) February 18, 2014
Can Tony Gonzalez add something new to the NFL On CBS team? Who else would you like to see hired to be part of the crew?