The vacancy sign has been turned on at Monday Night Football. After receiving mixed reviews (at best), ESPN will reportedly remove Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland from the MNF broadcast booth.
ESPN is going to have a new Monday Night Football booth. Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland will not return, via sources. The successors will be internal. No decision has been made yet. Both Tessitore and McFarland will remain in prominent roles at ESPN.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) May 9, 2020
Tessitore and McFarland spent the last two years on the mic for ESPN’s weekly NFL broadcast. In year one they formed a trio with Dallas Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten. Even on their best days, the former stars of the SEC Network felt out of place. Hopefully ESPN returns Booger and Tess back to their roots in college football.
Now ESPN is up a creek without a paddle. The four-letter network was prepared to dump an absurd amount of money into Tony Romo‘s lap before CBS brought a blank check to the negotiating table. ESPN previously tried to court Peyton Manning into the booth. Great on television, he turned down that opportunity while his little brother Eli was still playing. Even though Eli has now retired, Peyton appears comfortable producing “Peyton’s Places” on ESPN+.
Another potential option dropped out of the running this week. Phillip Rivers has the lengthy NFL resume with a ‘dagummit’ attitude that would be endearing to his audience. ESPN could have kept Tess and Booger around for another year before signing Rivers at the conclusion of his season in Indianapolis. Yesterday we learned Rivers will take his talents to the high school coaching ranks once his playing career has concluded.
ESPN is running out of options. Where do they go from here?
If they aren’t committed to hiring from within, Jay Cutler initially planned on hopping in a booth for Fox until the Miami Dolphins called. The timing may now work out. His wife, reality star Kristen Cavallari, is divorcing him for being too “lazy.”
If ESPN does keep the hire in-house, they could roll the dice on a personality, like former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. In theory, he’d be fun, but if you’ve heard any of his opening night MNF calls with Beth Mowin they’ve all fallen flat. Pat McAfee is an absolute electric factory, however, he might have found his niche in the college game when he dove into the canal on College GameDay last fall.
ESPN’s experiments with wild cards have consistently failed. To play it safe, it really boils down to two people, Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky. The depth of each person’s analysis is impressive. Riddick’s strengths are in player personnel. It’s a surprise he has not yet accepted a front office job for a franchise. Orlovsky is at his best when he is breaking down plays with a telestrator and that is why I believe Matt Jones’ former ESPN Radio co-host will be in the Monday Night Football booth.
As for play-by-play callers, it feels like Dave Pasch is finally going to be rewarded for putting up with Bill Walton for so many years. Who do you think will step into the Monday Night Football booth this fall?