Behind the Mic: ESPN Reinvigorates Tennis Coverage With Eight New Agreements; Greg Olsen To Work Super Bowl, XFL

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, ESPN signs eight new Tennis talents plus a new hire, and an NFL tight end will be working during the Super Bowl and in the XFL, and Fox PBC Fight Night Prelims announces their TV lineup

ESPN’s tennis team will continue to feature many faces long familiar to tennis fans with one notable addition – James Blake has joined ESPN for Wimbledon and the US Open. No fewer than eight returning commentators have signed new agreements.

Longtime ESPN tennis stalwarts with new contracts (year joined ESPN): Darren Cahill (2007), Chrissie Evert (2011), Mary Joe Fernandez (2000), Brad Gilbert (2004), John McEnroe (2009), Patrick McEnroe (1995), Chris McKendry (1996), and Pam Shriver (1990).

Blake, once ranked No. 4 in the world, won 10 titles during his playing career (1999-2013) and seven additional in doubles. He was part of the 2007 victorious U.S. Davis Cup team and placed fourth at the 2008 Olympics.

Since his playing days, he has been involved in philanthropy, including founding the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in memory of his father. He also has done tennis commentary for Tennis Channel, NBC and CNN; and since January 2018 serves as tournament director for the Miami Open where he heads player relations, media, broadcast and tournament improvements and innovations. His memoir, Breaking Back, was a New York Times Best Seller.

“ESPN is proud of the chemistry, experience and broad perspective, both generationally and historically, our roster represents, and we are thrilled the unmatched team will continue intact to provide the best in analysis, insights, opinions, and storytelling,” said Jamie Reynolds, ESPN vice president, production. “When we add someone of the caliber of James Blake, a recognized voice in the sport, to the mix, we’ll be all the stronger, with his intelligence, close ties to the sport and fresh perspective. He will join us for Wimbledon and the US Open, reflecting the number of hours and volume of content ESPN commits to those events.”

Returning commentators will be alongside teammates Cliff Drysdale, Chris Fowler, Jason Goodall, and Rennae Stubbs plus guest analysts Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Patrick Mouratoglou

…According to the The Athletic, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen will be flexing his on-air talent muscles during Fox Sports’ presentation of Super Bowl LIV. In addition, he will be working five XFL games as well…

…Fox Sports announced former IBF Cruiserweight Champion and Philadelphia-native Steve Cunningham joins legendary trainer Joe Goossen and Brian Kenny to call Fox PBC Fight Night Prelims: Julian Williams vs. Jeison Rosario live on FS1 Saturday, Jan. 18 (6:30 PM ET). The main card continues at 8:00 PM ET live on Fox and Fox Deportes, with former undisputed heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis calling the fights with Goossen and Kenny. In addition, former IBF and WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto serves as an analyst with host Kate Abdo for the Fox PBC Fight Night Prelims Weigh-In on FS1 on Friday, Jan. 17 (6:00 PM ET).