NFL Network lead host Rich Eisen guested on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and was asked about my report yesterday that he was “fearful” for his job after the NFL recently hired former ESPN programming chief Mark Shapiro. (Shapiro was in part responsible for ESPN not renewing Eisen’s contract in 2003 - leading to his departure from the network.)
Audio of Eisen’s remarks and a transcript of his comments are below.
Patrick: “Your thoughts? (On Shapiro joining NFL Network)”
Eisen: “You saw me last weekend Dan did I look like a nervous guy to you?”
Patrick: “Did you know Shapiro was coming in as a consultant?”
Eisen: “At the time? (Last weekend)”
Patrick: “Okay, have you spoken to him?”
Eisen: “I have not spoken to him, no.”
Patrick: “When are you signing your (new) contract?”
Eisen: (laughs) … “I don’t know Dan, this is an interesting situation in many ways because it’s sort of one of the first times that I’ve been nailed by a blog that has absolutely no basis in fact.”
Patrick: “So you’re not fearful of Mark Shapiro?”
Eisen: “Absolutely not. … no! I mean, I worked with him for many years before. There was clearly a disagreement back in the day (2003) as to what I could do for ESPN … and he (Shapiro) thought differently. And I think what I’ve done over the last seven years has proven what I can do as a broadcaster and the NFL Network feels the same way about me.”
There’s no doubt that the folks running the NFL Network think that Rich Eisen does a fine job. But as Eisen’s contract with the network expires August 1, why hasn’t he signed a new deal? Is it unreasonable to think that newly-hired Shapiro could have a role in the renewal of his contract? Or the contents of the deal as it pertains to Eisen’s on-air role?
Eisen admitted that he had past disagreements with Shapiro over “what he could do” as a broadcaster at ESPN. Disagreements that led to Eisen not having his contract renewed at ESPN. And we also now know that Eisen had no idea the NFL Network was bringing in Shapiro to consult on the network’s on-air product.
With Eisen the longtime face and signature personality of NFL Network, if he was completely safe in his current role with the network, is it unreasonable to think that the network would’ve brought him in to the discussion about bringing in Shapiro to remake the on-air product?
I have absolutely no problem with Eisen as the main host of NFL Network, but from his remarks today and the facts of the situation, it appears that there could be some changes at the network in the offing. Whether that entails Eisen continuing as lead host, moving to a different role or leaving the network remains to be seen.