The NFL TV free-agency carousel has yet another move as Dan Orlovsky will join Steve Levy and Louis Riddick Jr. on ESPN’s No. 2 NFL TV booth, The Post has learned.
ESPN declined comment.
The position is significant. While ESPN has signed Joe Buck and Troy Aikman as its No. 1 team, Levy and Riddick will call a handful of games this year and then around five per season beginning in 2023. Levy and Riddick also received contract extensions, cementing them on NFL games.
Orlovsky was pursued by Fox Sports, according to sources, where he would have fronted a five-day-a-week NFL show and done some games on Sundays, though he was not a candidate for the top jobs, according to sources. Kevin Burkhardt has replaced Buck as Fox’s No. 1 game caller, while Greg Olsen is the leading candidate to be his partner with Tom Brady’s arrival as an analyst to be determined.
Instead, Orlovsky will stay as an ESPN workhorse, appearing on “NFL Live,” “First Take” and “Get Up,” while continuing to call college football games and now the NFL.
Orlovsky, 38, essentially replaces Brian Griese. Griese teamed with Levy and Riddick on the No. 1 “Monday Night Football” team the past two years, but with his contract up, he left to be the 49ers quarterbacks coach.
Orlovsky, who played in the NFL for more than a decade, was a career backup. He was most famous for running out of the back of the end zone as a member of the Lions. A standout quarterback at UConn, he joined Bristol, Conn.-based ESPN in 2018 after he gained some acclaim breaking down plays on social media.
The Levy, Riddick and Orlovsky crew’s first game will be the second week of the season. “Monday Night Football” has a doubleheader that week and Buck and Aikman are expected to call the Titans-Bills game on ESPN. Levy, Riddick and Orlovsky would be on Vikings at Eagles on ABC.
Score one for Stephen A.
Stephen A. Smith was pretty vocal in saying that he was the one that thought Max Kellerman should no longer be on “First Take.” Smith said he favored a rotating group of debaters. These debate shows’ goal is attention, which has increased as folks like Chris (Mad Dog) Russo, JJ Reddick and this week Patrick Beverley, among others, have joined.
Beverley has been anointed a future star NBA television analyst as he has roasted Chris Paul every week. You normally don’t see that from current players, but Beverley has always been outspoken. Beverley understands the game and has played it perfectly this week. Post-Kellerman, host Molly Qerim, has also shown more personality, at times and entertainingly telling Smith to simmer down. Smith was pretty outspoken that he wanted “First Take” to be undisputedly his show and, the way these programs are judged, by ratings (up 22 percent as compared to last year) and social noise, it has worked.
Clicker Book Club
The new book, “Hebrew Hammer,” by Joseph Wanchois about Al Rosen, who was an All-Star third baseman and MVP with Cleveland primarily in the 1950s. He later went on to run teams and was named an Executive of the Year in 1987 while with the Giants. He was, as the title indicates, Jewish. Papa Clicker, my dad Herb Marchandsaid this interesting biography deserves 4.15 out of 5 clickers.