After a year-long hiatus, Ray Lewis is back on TV.
The two-time Super Bowl champion and former ESPN host is joining Fox Sports as an NFL analyst, news that was announced on FS1’s Undisputed on Tuesday morning.
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) June 20, 2017
Lewis is expected to provide commentary and analysis to all of FS1’s shows during football season, including the network’s new morning show featuring former Eagles receiver Cris Carter and Nick Wright, which is scheduled to debut on Sept. 5, two days before the start of the NFL season.
The former linebacker joined ESPN in 2013, but his short tenure at the network was a mixed bag. He was criticized for giving an inspirational pep talk to the Buffalo Bills before a 2015 Monday night game against the New England Patriots that he discussed on ESPN that same evening.
Rex Ryan confirms that Ray Lewis spoke to the Bills on Sunday night before Monday night’s game. Won’t get into what he told team.
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) November 25, 2015
The next night on ESPN: "If you're asking me Bill Belichick or Rex Ryan, I'm taking Rex Ryan all day." Hmm… https://t.co/xd3sNAv986
— Erik Frenz (@ErikFrenz) November 25, 2015
Lewis is just the latest in a series of former ESPN personalities whom Fox Sports has signed over the past year, a list that includes Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Andy Petree, Chris Broussard, Charissa Thompson, Carter, and sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
FS1 execs were reportedly furious at Aikman
Speaking of FS1, executives at the network were reportedly livid at former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman when he openly criticized the network for hiring Skip Bayless.
Last year, in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, Aikman openly called out Fox Sports president of national networks Jamie Horowitz for bringing Bayless on board.
“I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless,” Aikman said.
In a recent episode of his SI Media podcast, Deitsch said executives at Fox Sports “were beyond furious when Troy Aikman made his comments to me about Skip Bayless. I believe there were some FS1 executives who wanted [Fox Sports president] Eric Shanks to fire Troy Aikman, which in itself is nonsense.”
Deitsch’s guest, Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand, suggested executives might have been more angry that Aikman went to another publication to make his comments. But Deitsch had his own theory why the network was so angry with the Hall of Famer’s comments, but not with other Fox-on-Fox media fights.
“These opinionists … maybe the brass at Fox likes when they fight. Whereas maybe if it’s a quote-unquote straight or traditional person like Aikman, they get very upset when he criticizes one of the talent,” Deitsch said. “Aikman has credibility in the marketplace, whereas if Skip Bayless lights his junk on fire, no one’s going to care either way.”
Aikman’s beef with Bayless goes back to the 1990s, when the Undisputed host suggested the former Cowboys quarterback might be gay in a book he wrote about the team.
“I’m upset about it because it was made up and there was nothing accurate about anything that was insinuated,” Aikman told Deitsch in 2015. “And he did it, as he does everything, just for attention.”
Earlier this month, Aikman announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend Capa Mooty.
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