The NFL on Thanksgiving is steeped in tradition, but two fixtures won’t be around this year: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
Aikman has been calling games on Thanksgiving since he joined Fox’s lead broadcast team in 2002. Fox alternates between calling the Lions’ home game and Cowboys’ home game from year-to-year, so Aikman was able to call several of his former team’s Thanksgiving games. Fox hosts Giants vs. Cowboys this year.
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Even before his broadcasting career, Aikman made his mark on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys Legend still holds the Thanksgiving record for passing yards in a game with 455 in a 1998 loss to Randy Moss and the Vikings.
The NFL and all of its traditions will be back this week, but a wild offseason of changes across the league’s broadcast booths will make the holiday sound a bit different this year.
Here’s what you need to know about Aikman’s exit from Fox.
What happened to Troy Aikman?
Aikman announced in March that he was leaving Fox to join ESPN. Aikman and Buck, longtime partners in the Booth for Fox, now call “Monday Night Football” on ESPN each week.
While the duo will also call a playoff game this year and will begin to call Super Bowls on ABC beginning in four years, ESPN does not hold the rights to any game on the Thanksgiving schedule.
Aikman told ‘The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast’ in August that he left Fox after contract negotiations with the network broke down. Aikman said he wasn’t thrilled with Fox’s initial offer and asked to include the ability to opt-out after the first year of the deal, a demand Fox rejected.
MORE: Why Joe Buck and Troy Aikman left Fox to join ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Booth
Aikman told Sports Illustrated in March that he didn’t appreciate how he was treated by Fox Sports president Eric Shanks. “I just asked for an explanation on some things that I didn’t quite understand and he opted not to do that as well,” he said.
While Aikman cited contract issues and a lack of communication as what forced him to ESPN, Buck appeared to leave on better terms. He told Sports Illustrated shortly after the move that he’s “grateful” to Fox and remains friends with Shanks.
Buck also said he believed the World Series needed a new voice and planned to step away from baseball in the coming years even if he stayed with Fox.
Who replaced Troy Aikman at Fox?
Aikman’s role has been filled by former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, while Buck was replaced by play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt. The pair have taken over as Fox’s top broadcast team and will call Super Bowl 57 in February.
While Burkhardt is set to be Fox’s lead play-by-play commentator long-term, Olsen’s position might be temporary. Fox gave Tom Brady a reported 10-year, $375 million contract earlier this year, with the intent that he takes over as their lead color analyst once he retires.
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While some have doubts Brady will stick to that commitment, Fox has one of the biggest names in sports lined up to replace Aikman long-term until he says otherwise.