How ESPN could shake up its ‘Monday Night Football’ broadcast booth heading into 2020

Sure, some sports are back. But "sports" as we know them are largely still on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today is Day 63 Without Sports 🎙️.

As one of the NFL's most visible and important entities, ESPN pays big money for "Monday Night Football." This time around, the company needs to find an answer — preferably, for them, a long-term one — for its broadcast booth.

ESPN moved on from Joe Tessitore (play-by-play) and Anthony "Booger" McFarland over the weekend, according to multiple reports, after one season. The two debuted on the broadcasts in 2018, with Jason Witten a member of the crew before resuming his playing career. 

CORONAVIRUS & SPORTS: Get the latest news and information right in your inbox. Sign up here.

MONUMENTAL TASK: Easing fans' fear will be challenge for NFL stadiums whenever football returns

The entire broadcast will be restructured with not only new announcers, but a fresh producer in Phil Dean and director in Jimmy Platt. Still, the Worldwide Leader faces the daunting task of trotting out a new booth in a year they will likely not have a stadium full of screaming fans to boost the presentation. 

Tessitore and McFarland are expected to maintain large roles at ESPN. They just weren't the right fit for "MNF." Then again, who is? Reports suggest their successors will come internally, but we've included a few outside candidates ESPN could turn to.


Steve Levy: He's been floated as Tessitore's replacement on the main mic. Levy anchored "SportsCenter" for a long time and calls college football games, which seems to be a prerequisite for the "MNF" gig; Sean McDonough and Tessitore both emerged from the college ranks. Third time's the charm?  

Chris Fowler: Speaking of the college ranks, if ESPN goes there, why not promote the top dog? He and Kirk Herbstreit call the top college game of the week, a national semifinal and the championship game and it's always a solid broadcast. The New York Post reported moving the duo to "MNF" as a possibility executives are considering.

Dave Pasch: Known for working with Bill Walton, Pasch has called a variety of sports, from college basketball to NBA to college football. He's also been the radio voice for the Arizona Cardinals for the last 18 years. His voice certainly has big-game feel. 

Color Commentator 

Peyton Manning: The hangup here is that if this were a possibility, it'd already be done. Manning already does a show on ESPN+ called "Peyton's Places," appears on "Detail," and he's certainly not camera shy. If Romo can tell you where the ball is going before the snap, imagine what Manning can do from the booth. The dream booth is he and Al Michaels, but it's a longshot. 

Randy Moss: Staying with the Hall of Fame theme, Moss is a studio analyst for "MNF." He's a big name, but can he make the adjustment to games? 

Mina Kimes: Already busy hosting ESPN's daily podcast, appearing on several programs and writing, Kimes still found time in August to be the color commentator on Los Angeles Rams preseason games. She is sharp, passionate about the game, and could provide needed diversity to the booth. 

Dan Orlovsky: One of ESPN's fastest risers, his work for "Get Up" and "NFL Live" has been exemplary. Orlovsky is probably the sharpest analyst at the network in terms of X's and O's, and adding him to the booth would enhance the audience's football IQ immediately.

Louis Riddick: The former NFL defensive back and personnel man is one of the most dogged analysts at the network. He's served as the color guy on college games and does extensive work for the draft, while keeping his pulse on the NFL and is available to offer any type of analysis when it pertains to football. That kind of breadth and knowledge makes him ideal for the role. 

Kurt Warner: He's tried out for this job in the past, but was passed over for Witten and McFarland. The Athletic media columnist Richard Deitsch's ideal booth is comprised of Pasch, Riddick and Warner, who has been on the Westwood One radio call for "MNF" the last two seasons. He also checks boxes as a Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion.

The Wild Cards 

Chris Berman: Could he be back, back, back, back? After essentially being forced into a smaller role at ESPN, the network began re-embracing he and longtime compadre Tom Jackson last season. Boomer was the backup on Monday night broadcasts from 2012-16, but it is absolutely a stretch. A certain type of football fan would love to see him involved in some way. 

Pat McAfee: Can the Disney/NFL combination stomach him at full force? Probably not, but he's already quite visible on "College GameDay" and "Get Up," so a prime-time slot may not present itself as a factor in discouraging a McAfee-MNF pairing. A smart producer would let McAfee tap into his creative juices and let him roam the stadium during the game as maybe an extra sideline reporter.

Jay Cutler: Cutler had a deal with Fox to be its No. 2 commentator before he jumped back into football for a season with the Miami Dolphins. No one is simply given that job, so there must be something there. If his reality show was any indication, lots of dry humor could be on deck. 

Nate Burleson: A former player, he brings flair and smarts. He's enjoyable with the rest of the "Good Morning Football" crew on NFL Network. Would he leave that job for this one? 

Sports video of the day

The best Monday night finish last year was probably the first. Highlights: 

And who could forget this all-timer in the Superdome? 

This day in sports 

  • 1955: The New York Yankees' Mickey Mantle hits three tape-measure shots (legend has it all three traveled more than 450 feet) in a game — two from the left side, and one from the right. 
  • 1958: The St. Louis Cardinals' Stan Musial becomes the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to collect his 3,000th career hit. 
  • 1976: In the final ABA championship, the New York Nets defeated the Denver Nuggets, 112-106, in Game 6. It was the Nets' second ABA title in three seasons.
  • 1983: The California Angels' Reggie Jackson becomes the first Major League Baseball player to whiff 2,000 times in a career.
  • 1997: Eddie Murray becomes the sixth player in Major League Baseball history to appear in 3,000 games. Murray, then a member of the Anaheim Angels, went 2-for-3 in an 8-7 win over the Chicago White Sox.
  • 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah scores a Premier League-record 32nd goal in a 4-0 win over Brighton.

Classic games to watch

NFL:1987 AFC Championship Game, Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns ("The Fumble"), NFL Network, 5:30 p.m. ET. 2018 Week 14, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens, NFL Network, 8 p.m. ET.

MLB:2001 World Series Game 5, New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, MLB Network, noon ET. 2003 World Series Game 4, Florida Marlins vs. New York Yankees, MLB Network, 3 p.m. ET.

NBA:2015 NBA Finals Game 6, Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, ESPN, 7 p.m. ET. 2011 Western Conference Finals Game 1, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks, 9 p.m. ET, NBATV, 9 p.m. ET. 2017 NBA Finals Game 3, Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET.

MLS: Aug. 24, 2018, Atlanta United vs. Orlando City, ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET. June 28, 2015, New York Red Bulls vs. NYCFC, ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET. June 25, 2017, Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET.

NHL:2015 Winter Classic, Chicago Blackhawks vs. Washington Capitals from Nationals Park, 8 p.m. ET.

Story time! Here are some of our best

  • NBA: Players favor resuming 2019-20 regular season with full playoff schedule
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Three FBS programs impacted by California announcement
  • BRETT FAVRE: One big difference between Packers drafting Rodgers and Love
  • ARIZONA: Governor clears the way for pro sports to resume activity in state
  • PGA TOUR: COVID-19 testing paramount in plan to resume play
  • MIKE TYSON: Return to boxing is what America needs, but will it happen?

Sports we’re missing

NBA and NHL playoff games

Major League Baseball

  • Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles
  • St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Miami Marlins at Cincinnati Reds
  • Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox at San Diego Padres
  • New York Mets at Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies
  • New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays
  • Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers
  • Boston Red Sox at Atlanta Braves
  • Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers
  • Kansas City Royals at Houston Astros
  • San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies
  • Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Angels
  • Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners

Major League Soccer

  • New York City FC v. Toronto FC
  • Minnesota United v. Real Salt Lake
  • Nashville SC v. Philadelphia Union
  • San Jose Earthquakes v. Seattle Sounders

Actual sports stuff

Baseball: A live sporting event! It may be a world away, but it's something. The SK Wyverns take on the LG Twins at 5:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2. 

Lacrosse: The Premier Lacrosse League is holding its collegiate draft at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports. 

Source: Read Full Article