Gary Danielson has been a recognizable face and voice in sports broadcasting for decades. Best known as an NFL and college football analyst, he has brought insight into the game from his days on the gridiron and now from the commentator’s booth.
With a lengthy career spanning playing and media gigs, Danielson has amassed a sizable personal net worth. But where does his money come from? Danielson’s fortune, early years, broadcasting path, and family relationships contributed to financial success. Learn About Gary Danielson Net Worth.
Early Life in Michigan
Gary Dennis Danielson was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 10, 1951. He spent his childhood in the nearby town of Dearborn along with his parents, Simon and Ruth Danielson, older brother David, and younger sister Nancy.
Simon Danielson reportedly worked in roofing and construction. Nothing else is publicly known about Danielson’s early upbringing or schooling years in Michigan. But even from a young age, his tremendous size and athletic ability started being noticed by football programs in the state.
After twice being named the best player on Dearborn High School’s team, Danielson received offers from dozens of colleges. He elected to stay close to home—accepting a football scholarship at nearby Purdue University in Indiana.
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College Football Success at Purdue
While at Purdue between 1970 and 1973, Danielson immediately earned the starting quarterback position in his freshman year. Standing 6’4” tall and weighing 225 pounds with cannon arm strength, he proved a formidable passer and physical runner.
Danielson led a resurgence of the struggling Purdue football program. In his four years under center, Purdue went 25-11-1, including their first two winning seasons in a decade. Individually, Danielson won Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophies as the Big Ten’s best player his final two years—including being named Big Ten MVP in 1973. He also earned All-America honors.
To this day, Danielson remains among the greatest players in Purdue football history. He still holds numerous program passing records like career yards, touchdowns, attempts, completions, and more from his era. He was recently named the eighth greatest Purdue athlete by Sports Illustrated.
Getting Drafted to the NFL
Danielson’s college heroics made him one of the most touted prospects entering the 1974 NFL Draft. Considered a borderline Heisman candidate going into his senior year, his stock was high. He was captain of the College All-Star team and impressed scouts further that summer.
The Detroit Lions selected Danielson early in Round 1—14th overall in 1974. Signing his first professional contract soon after that it marked Danielson’s foray into significant football income.
While contract specifics went undisclosed for decades, we know Danielson earned various bonuses for performance benchmarks. Touted as the Lions’ quarterback of the future, his presence boosted their bottom line via ticket sales, too. After becoming the Lions’ starter midway through 1974, Danielson jerseys started being mass-produced and hitting store shelves.
Early Playing Career & Trades
Danielson took over as a full-time starter for Detroit in 1975 and 1976. While flashing potential, the team struggled to victories—going 13-18 in his 31 starts those years. Danielson battled injuries, too, including ACL, ankle, and throwing shoulder tears at points.
By 1977, the Lions had soured on Danielson as franchise savior. They traded him to the short-lived New York Giants franchise, where similar mediocrity followed between 1977-78, though Danielson performed admirably individually. He became Tampa Bay’s 1979 expansion pick when the Giants folded, spending his last few playing years as a backup in various places.
Danielson’s career concluded after 8 seasons with low win totals but respectable personal stats. His 4,745 yards and 29 touchdowns were promising tallies had his body held up. Either way, Danielson had earned around $250,000 annually ($1.14 million today) at his peak, according to past contract leaks—setting up nice savings once retired at just age 30.
Broadcasting Career Begins
Not long removed from his last NFL snaps in 1983, Danielson embarked upon a long broadcasting career covering the sport he knew best. Early on, he analyzed various sports and teams for the likes of ESPN, ABC, and CBS.
In 1985, Danielson landed a role that made him a widely known name—serving as color commentator for Monday Night Football on ESPN for five straight years. Danielson was suddenly reaching millions of households every week during NFL season by sharing the booth with marquee talents like Frank Gifford and Al Michaels.
Journey to CBS Sports
After his high-profile Monday Night Football run ended, Danielson worked with various other networks through the early 1990s—including NBC, ABC, and TNT at times. By 1995, he’d settled into a consistent pairing with play-by-play man Verne Lundquist on college games for ABC Sports.
When ABC Sports programming shifted to ESPN on ABC across certain platforms around 2006, Danielson and Lundquist also took on the mantle of CBS Sports’ lead college football broadcast team. They have worked together seamlessly ever since, attending many high-profile bowl games and coast-to-coast rivalry matchups.
|September 10, 1951
|Gary Dennis Danielson
|American Football Commentator and Former Professional Football Player.
|6′ 2″ (1.88 m)
|Kaity Danielson, Matt Danielson
|Detroit, Michigan, USA
Gary Danielson Net Worth Over 30-Year Broadcasting Career
Danielson earned a handsome living as one of football’s most respected analysts with broadcasting giants like CBS, ESPN, and ABC in his decades.
While his current salary isn’t publicly disclosed, top NFL analysts today generally make $2-3 million annually. Danielson likely falls into a similar range for his CBS duties. Factoring in past contracts, endorsements, and his own Michigan Coney Island restaurant investment, celebrity sites estimate Gary Danielson’s Net Worth to be somewhere between $12-$15 million as of 2023.
For early retirement from playing during the era of far smaller contracts, Danielson maximized his earning potential in broadcasting instead. Of course, his long career rarely happened due to a bizarre off-field incident in his early Cowboys tenure.
Dallas Cowboys Arrest & Legal Troubles
Between NFL playing stints in the summer of 1982, Danielson had a short stint with the Dallas Cowboys for over two months. However, very early into Cowboys training camp, Danielson was arrested related to a bizarre series of events one August night at the team’s facility:
- Police were responding to a burglary alarm triggered at Cowboys headquarters in the middle of the night.
- Officers then spotted Danielson departing the premises in underwear and a t-shirt while carrying multiple bags of newly purchased Cowboys merchandise (hats, shirts, souvenirs). He ignored their orders to stop and fled to player dormitories nearby.
- Police arrested Danielson for burglary of a Cowboys pro shop based on an activated alarm and stolen goods found in his dorm room. He seemingly had robbed his own NFL team’s gift shop.
Legal documents reveal Danielson insisted he was sleepwalking and had no recollection of shop break-in or confrontation with police. Prosecutors, noting no signs of forced entry at the gift shop, ultimately believed him and opted not to file charges over a “somnambulistic episode”. Danielson was released by the Cowboys days later, nonetheless.
The bizarre incident easily could have derailed Danielson’s broadcasting career before it began, and prosecutors doubted the sleepwalking claim. Instead, Danielson has climbed to the top of the football commentary mountain in the decades since with his strong takes and analyses.
Family: Long Marriage & Grown Children
On the family side, Danielson married their wife, Lorianne, in 1976 while launching his NFL career. Nearly five decades later, their marriage remains going strong. Lorianne and Gary raised two sons named Matt and Michael together.
Danielson kept his children and wife largely out of the public spotlight throughout his career. Today, Matt and Michael Danielson are grown adults living private lives. Danielson mainly shares glimpses into travels with her wife, Lorianne, or the occasional family holiday gathering.
While Danielson himself is a famous face on Saturdays every fall, his family enjoys their privacy. And with the broadcaster’s substantial finances, everyone remains well supported while Danielson maintains his hectic CBS football schedule year after year.
The Bottom Line on Danielson’s Wealth
In summation, though his NFL dreams flamed out fast via injury, Gary Danielson carved an ideal second career as a broadcaster over 30+ years and counting. Thanks to years of TV/radio contracts and endorsements built up, Danielson lives very comfortably today off an estimated eight-figure net worth.
Of course, money can never replace Danielson’s lost dream of NFL stardom and championship rings. But through his broadcast voice, the longevity he never achieved as a player lives on examining the game he loves every weekend. For the well-paid analysis he now provides fans, Danielson certainly isn’t complaining about how things played out.
1. What is Gary Danielson’s salary?
While the specifics of Gary Danielson’s current CBS salary are undisclosed, top NFL broadcast analysts today generally earn between $2-3 million per year. Given his long tenure and status as a lead commentator for major college games, Danielson likely falls into a similar pay range annually.
2. Who is Gary Danielson’s wife?
Gary Danielson has been married to his wife Lorianne since 1976 – shortly after he began his NFL playing career—the two dated through Danielson’s time at Purdue University. Next year, Gary and Lorianne Danielson will celebrate 47 years of marriage together.
3. What is Gary Danielson’s age?
As of 2023, broadcaster Gary Danielson is 71 years old. He was born Gary Dennis Danielson on August 10, 1951, in Detroit, Michigan. Danielson enjoyed an 8-year pro football career in the 1970s and ’80s before starting his long broadcasting career in 1985 at age 34.
4. Is Gary Danielson married?
Gary Danielson has been married to her wife, Lorianne, since 1976. The husband and wife pair just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary last year. Lorianne and Gary Danielson have two adult sons, Matt and Michael Danielson, who now live their own private lives.