On Saturday, Andrew Marchand, a media columnist for the New York Post and Richard Deitsch both mentioned that Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland would no longer broadcast Monday Night Football games. One of the favorites according to Marchand would be Steve Levy. Listening to The Dan Patrick Show today, it sounds like he sensed that he will get the play-by-play spot. I think it makes sense as he has been at ESPN for a long time. He has called many high-profile college games with Brian Griese and the XFL this past spring. The duo has also worked National Football League preseason games for the Denver Broncos. Checking the NFL Game Pass free preview to confirm, Levy and Griese worked with Louis Riddick in the booth on the back half of last season’s Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader.
Meanwhile, Dianna Russini, who worked the sidelines that night as well as the XFL coverage, could do one of the teams. Lisa Salters, if she is still there, would do the other team. I think Dan Orlovsky ends up in the studio or on-site with Suzy Kolber on Countdown on every other game except the double-header where he does the second game with Bob Wischusen if his Jets radio duties do not conflict since those two did college football last autumn. On-air chemistry is key, and I think last year’s Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game last year was really an audition.
It would be far from unprecedented to have a three-man booth. The American showpiece events in professional football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and ice hockey have gone with a format of a play-by-play commentator and two color analysts. Patrick did make a good point where the analyst has to read the game and make their point(s) within about ten to twenty seconds. The challenge with two analysts will be finding the rhythm of when to jump in and when to let the other one talk. Week one will likely be the most challenging because that’s when the most mistakes are made. Levy/Griese/Riddick is very talented and I think they will work well together, so it would shock me if there is another reshuffling of the deck of cards at MNF. I will not rule out the possibility that Riddick might be in the front office down the road one day like Mike Mayock of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Other candidate rumors or possibilities
I recall rumors of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit at one stage of this process, but they do a great job on college football. If they were hired to the broadcast booth on Mondays, they would have the advantage of knowing most of the players, having called many of their games in the past. They would do well, but it would still feel odd. I think they are fine with doing the best games in the fall on Saturday. Pat McAfee would be a surprise for me if he is chosen to the booth, sidelines, or studio. His style works for XFL and college, but the NFL has a formal feel to it. I think his way fits at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. His interviews were fascinating to listen to when talking with players on the sideline. As someone who regularly watched Peyton Manning play at the University of Tennessee, then the Colts and Broncos professionally.
Future for Tessitore and McFarland
Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland did get the privilege of calling Super Bowl LIII for the audience in Australia, so they did get to call the biggest event. Though neither one is calling NFL games anymore for ESPN/ABC, I expect that they will be doing college games. When Levy and Griese did games, it was usually about the third choice behind Fowler/Herbstreit and Sean McDonough/Todd Blackledge’s crews. I envision Tessitore working with Greg McIlroy or another partner, but may not get one of those semifinal games in the College Football Playoff, but a New Year’s Six bowl game. As for McFarland, I think he will be used again during segments with Scott Van Pelt, work the studio/game-site for NFL Countdown, and/or the college football studio.
Who would you like to see get the Monday Night Football job? Leave a comment below.
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