Rich Eisen, the most recognizable face at the NFL Network, will be a busy man this fall: He’ll be pulling double duty and hosting a radio/TV show on DirecTV, multiple sources confirmed to The Big Lead this week.
Eisen didn’t return a text message early this morning.
It’s unclear just how much less of a workload Eisen will shoulder at NFL Network, but he’ll definitely still be doing the NFL Combine, NFL Draft, and Sundays during the season. How much else remains a question.
Depending on whom you talk to, Eisen is either a talented host with the ability to seamlessly transition to pop culture – like Dan Patrick, whom he patterns his game after – or just another host with an over-inflated sense of self worth. His negotiations with the notoriously cheap NFL were “brutal” this year, a friend of his told The Big Lead this week.
The NFL Network/CBS NFL Thursday merger happened in February, impacting his contract discussions. Eisen, if you want to read between the lines here and here, wasn’t thrilled when he was passed over as the host of Thursday night football. CBS placed its own guy, James Brown, in the chair. Sources at CBS and NFL Network say that the internal fight for that hosting position was “as tough as they’ve seen in the industry.”
[Aside: Much worse than Turner vs. CBS and the NCAA Tournament assignments.]
DirecTV’s push for Eisen accelerated in July as it became increasingly clear it would partner with AT&T. The seismic merger is expected to go through – some might say it saved DirecTV – and in the coming years, the network hopes to become something of a destination for sports fans.
DirecTV is expected to formally announce Eisen’s dual role soon. It is essentially a radio show on TV (which is how they can pay Eisen big money). If you don’t have DirecTV and want to watch Eisen’s show, you can do so on NFL Now, which just launched this month.