NEW YORK – Goodbye, Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe. Hello, Tony Gonzalez.
Marino and Sharpe will not return to their analyst roles on CBS’ “The NFL Today” pregame show. Gonzalez, a recently retired star tight end, will now prep for a turn on the network’s pro football coverage.
CBS sports chairman Sean McManus said the move to part ways with Marino and Sharpe “was really kind of a mutual decision” and “has nothing to do with any dissatisfaction in the ratings.”
McManus said he has no single metric by which he measures the success of the pregame show.
“It’s very subjective,” McManus said. “Normally, if somebody’s really doing a good job, there’s a fairly overwhelming feeling that the person was a good hire, and the show is better than it was without him.”
He is expecting to get that with Gonzalez.
“He’s the closest thing to a sure bet that I’ve seen in a long time,” McManus said. “You can’t teach ... likeability. Tony is a very likable individual.”
Gonzalez is going to go from the field to the studio in a hurry. The former All-Pro tight end who appears destined for a spot in the Hall of Fame in Canton said he was looking for a TV job with all of the major companies that broadcast NFL games.
He said he felt the most comfortable with CBS. The Tiffany network recently landed a deal to air NFL games on network TV on Thursday nights next season in addition to its longtime stable of AFC games.
“What really stood out about CBS was it was a comfortable fit from the beginning,” Gonzalez said. “The opportunity to work with someone like James Brown – the guy’s a legend.”
Marino, the longtime Miami Dolphins quarterback, joined CBS in 2002. Sharpe was added for the 2004 season.
Gonzalez will join Brown, Bill Cowher and Boomer Esiason on “The NFL Today” on Sundays. He hasn’t officially retired from the NFL, though this would seem to make returning to the field a remote prospect.
The work ethic that made him a star performer should serve him well in the TV world, too. He said he is already rehearsing to himself in the mirror – and it doesn’t quite feel normal.
“I think the best thing that I can do is reps,” Gonzalez said. “You don’t go out there and start balling in Week 1.”