Who will replace Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore On ESPN’s Monday Night Football?
BY ADAM GREENE
In a news cycle filled with something awful pretty much every second, you can be forgiven for missing that ESPN has decided to load Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland into the ejector seat and blast them out the airlock out of Monday Night Football.
There has not, as of this writing, been a groundswell of support for their return from the fanbase. No one is crafting a harshly-worded Change.org petition demanding that McFarland and Tessitore re-enter the MNF booth and restore all the dignity to the proceedings in a way only a man named after a clotted wad of snot can.
Nope. As a civilization, we’re pretty OK with this.
Which is a shame, since to me Tessitore is one of the best. I love his boxing calls and he most certainly was not the problem with the Monday Night Football broadcasting experience. When people talk about making chicken salad out of chicken crap, you need to understand that Tessitore wasn’t even given chicken crap. He was given a 350-pound Booger.
But the question arises, who will replace McFarland and Tessitore? With no Dingleberry McTaggart or Nose Goblin O’Reilly out there waiting in the wings, who will ESPN tab to replace their not-so-dynamic duo?
Here’s what you have to consider if, say, you wish to make a wager on the new MNF crew.
ESPN’s current deal with the NFL to run Monday Night Football expires after this next season. That could mean it leaves the network and Disney/ABC/ESPN umbrella or, more than likely, that MNF will move back to network television and be hyped up more like the spectacle it used to be.
Either way, ESPN is likely just looking to take the new guys on a one-year test drive to see what they’ve got. The specter of Peyton Manning also hangs out there. He’s turned them down this go-around, but basically, it’s his job when and if he wants it. Of course, you could say that about pretty much every color analyst job in the sport (with the exception of Tony Romo, believe it or not. He’s set for life.)
The play-by-play guy? I’m betting he’s somebody new to the ESPN team too. The big names they’d want to take the job, a guy like Steve Levy, Rece Davis or Chris Fowler have too good a gig on Saturdays with their college football jobs. Those guys are the faces of the franchise and, unless they want to split, won’t be asked to. And, frankly, all of those guys would turn the job down flat.
There’s no money on this and no odds, but don’t sleep on Beth Mowins. Hiring her to take the main MNF mic would bring the house down and put a HUGE spotlight on MNF.
But who do you pick as a sidekick, the guy that does the Collinsworth slide to deliver the analysis?
According to the odds at BetOnline.ag, current NCAA analyst Briane Griese is the favorite at +300. Griese is the current big dog under the ESPN/ABC college football umbrella so it makes sense they’d consider him. ESPN No. 3 Dan Orlovsky is No. 2 on the odds list at +500, tied with Louis Riddick and Matt Hasselbeck.
And, honestly, I don’t think any of them get it. Nobody wants to watch a former backup QB on MNF. And, yes, Hasselbeck wasn’t a back up his whole career, but was one in his heart. Riddick would be a very interesting selection and he could end up with it, but I don’t think he’ll be ESPN’s first choice.
When I look at that list, I see three legitimate contenders; Kurt Warner (+600), Pat McAfee (+900) and Jay Cutler (+1000).
Warner has the highest odds of the three for a reason. He wanted the job the last time it was open when Jason Witten and Booger McFarland were hired. If he still wants it, he’ll walk into it, but with the uncertainty about 2021 I’m not sure he’d be eager to disrupt his life without getting a long-term commitment. He’s that kind of guy.
Cutler and McAfee bring a lot of the same qualities to the table, mainly their sense of humor and personalities. And, yes, I’m talking about Jay Cutler. He’s dry, but he’s funny. McAfee, on the other hand, is a stand up comedian. He is hilarious. He’s a writer too and if you’re going to swing for the fences with your one-year layover on ESPN, why not go big? There may not be a crowd for at least the first month with these games. TV’s going to need the help.
I say McAfee’s the guy, Mowins calls the game and history is made.
For one season, at least. If we have a season.