Like any pro quarterback, Boomer Esiason was sacked a few times, but none were as embarrassing as when ABC sacked him after two seasons on Monday Night Football. Still, Esiason, who began his broadcasting career well before his playing career was done, wasn’t thrown for much of a loss. He dusted himself off, found another network and built up his radio resume.
Currently, Esiason is a studio host on CBS’ NFL Today, has his own show on Madison Square Garden Network, serves as the analyst on CBS radio broadcasts of Monday Night Football, and is co-host of a drive time morning radio talk show on WFAN in New York. He is active in the fight against cystic fibrosis, raising millions through his foundation.
The 37th overall pick of the 1984 draft out of Maryland, Esiason played 14 seasons in the NFL and retired as the most prolific left-handed passer in league history. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1988 NFL MVP. Most of his career was spent with the Cincinnati Bengals (1984-1992, 1997), but he also played with the New York Jets (1993-95), and one season with the Arizona Cardinals (1996).
Esiason took over Cincinnati’s starting quarterback role in 1985, succeeding Ken Anderson. The next season he made the Pro Bowl for the first time. In 1988, he ran the no-huddle offense and led the Bengals to a 12-4 record and eventually to the Super Bowl, where they were victims of a classic Joe Montana comeback, falling to the 49ers 20-16.
Esiason led the Bengals back to the playoffs in 1990, as they shellacked the Houston Oilers before eventually falling to the Los Angeles Raiders. That was Esiason’s last postseason appearance, however, as the Bengals stunk the next two seasons. Once the team thought much of the smell came from Esiason, they traded the New York area native to the Jets in 1993.
The Jets went 8-8 in 1993 and Esiason returned to the Pro Bowl. After two more years, he bounced to the Cardinals and eventually back to the Bengals. He could have played at least another season with the Bengals, but later said he felt the club was trying to push him out the door. ABC offered a spot in the booth for Monday Night Football, and Esiason jumped at it.
In 1991, Esiason started his broadcasting career on USA Network’s coverage of the World League, the NFL’s developmental circuit. He began working as a studio analyst in the playoffs in 1993. Tall and blond, he had TV looks and was more willing than some jocks to let loose with an opinion.
Esiason teamed with Dan Dierdorf and Al Michaels for the 1998 season of Monday Night Football. ABC eventually decided to get rid of Dierdorf for the 1999 season and in early 2000, the network thought Esiason wasn’t a good fit either. Shortly after he was canned – with a year still left on his contract – Esiason lashed out at Michaels, saying the veteran announcer never really worked with him.
By fall, Esiason was back on the air for Monday Night Football, this time on radio and he’s been there ever since. He spent a season with Fox Sport Net as a studio analyst before joining CBS on the NFL Today. After Don Imus was fired for a snide comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, Esiason was named his replacement on WFAN, co-hosting with Craig Carton. Unlike Imus’ show, which dealt with news and politics, Boomer and Carton focus overwhelmingly on sports.
In 1993, Esiason’s son Gunnar was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a fatal genetic disorder marked by chronic infections and clogged airways. Esiason – who had been involved in fundraising for cystic fibrosis research since 1986 – and his wife Cheryl started a foundation to fight the disease. They’ve raised more than $60 million.
Boomer on the web
Boomer’s site with bio, address for fan mail, link to buy Boomer items that suppport charity work.
Pro-football-reference.com: Boomer Esiason page
Boomer’s career year-by-year statistics.
Boomer Esiason Foundation home page
Home page of the foundation Boomer started with hope of eliminating CF.
To raise money for his foundation, Boomer backs a BBQ sauce that is sold from this site.
Latest on Boomer
Esaison’s broadcasting career seems to be going smoothly. His toughest challenge may be early Tuesday mornings during football season, when he has to be on air at WFAN broadcasting Monday Night Football the previous night.
News and Commentary
Slate: Are You Ready for Some Real Monday Night Announcers?
Robert Weintraub advises TV viewers to listen to Monday Night Football on radio.
USA TODAY: Boomer Esiason mounts winning drive against Cystic Fibrosis
Boomer talks about raising money and dealing with his son’s illness.
New York Times: It's All in Boomer's Hands; Jets' Quarterback Is Pitching Leadership and Responsibility
The New York Times profiles the kid from Long Island on the eve of a big Jets game.
Forbes.com: Video interview with Boomer
Boomer talks about today’s football players and how they need to learn to handle money.
On advice for parents with sick children
"Educate yourself. Understand what you're dealing with. Then figure out how to fight it. Then figure out how to raise money for that fight. It'll help you cope. It'll help your child."
On working with Al Michaels
"It's hard to do your job when you're trying to offer humor and be provocative and the guy next to you isn't trying to bring it out in you. Al could have been better for me, and I tried with him, but it never clicked with me because he never wanted it to click."
On his son’s health
"I realize that every day that I hear him cough and every day he gets closer to his 13th birthday he's only 20 years away from the average lifespan of a CF patient."
On immature players
"Listen, the only thing that you can do is sit these players down, talk to them, try to, you know, talk to them man-to-man. But the problem with that is every now and again they act like a child. They always say that they want to be treated like a man, yet they do childish acts like this."