Sports | March 3, 2021 1:09 pm

Fox Sports Facing Shannon Sharpe Decision This Summer

Sharpe's current deal is set to expire after July 2021, according to Front Office Sports

Shannon Sharpe at Super Bowl LIV
Former NFL player Shannon Sharpe at Super Bowl LIV.
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Fox Sports must decide whether the network wants to attempt to retain host Shannon Sharpe soon as his current contract is set to expire after July 2021, according to Front Office Sports.

The current co-host of Skip & Shannon: Undisputed with Skip Bayless, Sharpe only makes about half of his FS1 co-host’s $6 million salary, FOS reports. If Fox decides to keep the three-time Super Bowl champion, the network would have a great chance to show it values its white and Black on-air stars equally by paying 52-year-old Sharpe the same amount that 69-year-old Bayless gets.

“Everyone’s focused on Tony Romo, Jim Nantz, and the impact of one’s salary on the other at CBS. But the same thing is playing out at Fox,” a source told FOS. “Shannon’s become a star in his own right. And do you really want to be paying a Black man half what his white co-star’s making? That’s a tough look these days.”

Moderated by Jenny Taft, Undisputed is a flagship show for FS1 and is its main competition against First Take with Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim on ESPN.

Should Fox decide to move on from Sharpe, should he choose to leave of his own accord, or if the two sides are unable to come to an agreement, former NFL player and ESPNer Emmanuel Acho could be a possible replacement alongside Bayless on Undisputed. Already on FS1 alongside Marcellus Wiley on Speak for Yourself in the afternoon, Acho is also the host of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man on YouTube and was just named to replace longtime host Chris Harrison on an upcoming episode of ABC’s The Bachelor.

It is a tough time for Sharpe to be hitting free agency with many sports media companies cutting back on payroll, but Fox Sports may not want to lose one of their most prominent Black stars to a rival, especially if that creates the perception the two sides parted ways over a pay inequality that was in any way related to race.

“Skip’s the flagpole. Shannon drafts off of him. And he’s done it well,” a TV executive said during Sharpe’s previous negotiations in 2019. “Shannon doesn’t have to be perfect. He just has to be very good — and he is.”

If Fox feels the same, they’d be wise to pay Sharpe and keep their dream team intact.

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