Two Wildcard Candidates For the Monday Night Football Booth

Kyle Koster
A slightly outdated bit of branding.
A slightly outdated bit of branding. / George Rose/Getty Images
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Speculation over what ESPN will do with the Monday Night Football booth is one of our nation's greatest exports right now with most of the industry shut down. Extremely plugged-in reporters may say they missed out on Tony Romo but my lesser sources tell me there were some rather significant logistical hurdles (like the money) that rendered this barely a pipe dream anyway. The latest scuttlebutt comes from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

"ESPN is looking almost exclusively at its existing talent to possibly succeed analyst Booger McFarland and play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore, according to sources. "

The network declined comment about potential turnover, as they've done about the previous stories about potential turnover. Some possibilites currently under the Disney umbrella:

"At the top of the list are football analysts Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky, “SportsCenter” anchor-turned announcer Steve Levy, and former punter and fast-rising media personality Pat McAfee. Like nearly every company, ESPN and parent Disney have been hurt financially by the pandemic. "

These are all names which have been previously linked to the as-yet-to-be vacant position. So there's no real surprise. What is surprising, though, is how much open discussion there is about tossing Tessitore and McFarland to the curb. It cannot be a great situation for them.

And look, the MNF returns haven't been great. Losing Jason Witten proved to be addition by subtraction but most people passionate about this stuff agree they are lagging behind in what has become an arms race. At the same time, one could forgive the incumbent pairing for looking at all the chatter and wondering when they missed the announcement that their services would not be needed in the future.

It has to be dizzying to see colleagues at ESPN eschew any semblance of a poker face in making it perfectly clear on social media that they'd like the job. Or openly campaign for it. Or suddenly develop a strong new respect for The Shield. It is definitely something most other people would not enjoy.

Imagine, for a second, a construction foreman seeing the floodgates open and a series of posts on a message board laying out contenders to take over the job site. Then imagine how he or she might react to see those mentioned embrace all buzz with open arms.

If ESPN isn't seriously considering further changes after naming a new director, it's news to some frontline media reporters. For now, though, there is a booth. And an extremely uncertain future ahead. We could be here in the same spot next year with Tessitore and McFarland, two longshot contenders for the booth they already inhabit.

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