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Volume 26 No. 139
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McDonough Sheds Light On Exit From "MNF," Says Gig Wasn't Fun

McDonough said he looks forward to calling college football games more than the NFL
Photo: ESPN IMAGES
McDonough said he looks forward to calling college football games more than the NFL
Photo: ESPN IMAGES
McDonough said he looks forward to calling college football games more than the NFL
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

ESPN's Sean McDonough has shed some light on his departure from the "MNF" booth after two seasons, saying while it was a "great honor," it "wasn't a tremendous amount of fun." Appearing on WEEI's "Kirk & Callahan" on Thursday, McDonough said, "When the conversation about a reboot of ‘Monday Night Football’ came up, when I took the ego part of it out and rationalize that I really could be fine with not being the voice of ‘Monday Night Football,’ then it became easy. I love college football, to me it’s more fun -- and that’s not a rip at the NFL. ... I enjoy doing college football more and I look forward to it.” He added, "If you go back and look at the schedule, generally we got one of the worst NFL games each week. You’re trying to make something sound interesting or exciting that isn’t." McDonough noted the "MNF" booth during his two years was "really geared around" analyst Jon Gruden. McDonough: "That's not unusual -- TV really is an analyst-driven medium and Jon had a particular set of skills that he did really well. ... It was just really football heavy and most or all the play-by-play guys probably would have felt like a bit of a bystander." He added, "From a participation in the broadcast standpoint, I don’t think they needed me very much." McDonough noted he believes his skill set is "better suited to the college game." He said, "The NFL is a different style of presentation of the game. It’s much more about the down-to-down football, the meaning and execution of every play. In college football, it’s not about that. It’s about the atmosphere. A lot of people watching have never heard of any of these players, so you’re supposed to humanize them and tell their stories, and I like doing that." 

CHANGE TO THE INITIAL PLANS: McDonough said he originally anticipated staying on at "MNF" after Gruden left to return to coaching. He said he had talks with ESPN about the future, noting, "They were all about, ‘What do you think about these candidates? What about Peyton Manning? Of all the in-house guys, who do you think would be the best? Would you be willing to come to Connecticut and audition some of these guys?’ I think the expectation level was that I was just going to continue and at that time." McDonough: "I had read that they were considering a total reboot of ‘Monday Night Football’ and I just think that it’s a product of having new bosses. The people who hired me for this job are gone. … If (John Skipper) was still there, this wouldn’t have come up. ... When you have new bosses, they want their own people, and I really just think that’s just a part of this” (“Kirk & Callahan,” WEEI, 3/15).

NEEDING TO PLAY NICE: Pro Football Talks's Mike Florio said ESPN needs to "disavow" McDonough's claims about "MNF" getting the worst games if the net aspires to "have a good relationship with the NFL," especially if new President Jimmy Pitaro is "trying to mend fences" with the league. Florio referenced an article in this week's SportsBusiness Journal about the friction between ESPN and the NFL and said, "I'm not going to be surprised if 'Monday Night Football' goes elsewhere." Florio: "That deal comes up one year before all the others, so it's ESPN or somewhere else. For ESPN, it's 'Monday Night Football' or nothing at all. It could be nothing at all" ("PFT," NBCSN, 3/16).

NEXT IN LINE? The N.Y. Post's Andrew Marchand cites sources as saying that Panthers TE Greg Olsen is "auditioning today to be an analyst" for "MNF." The 33-year-old Olsen "could still continue playing in the NFL, if he doesn't get a plum broadcasting job." Olsen also "could receive consideration from Fox for Thursday Night, if Peyton Manning turns down the job." Last year, when hurt, Olsen "called a game for Fox and received strong reviews" (TWITTER.com, 3/16).