ESPN's "MNF" Search To Pivot After Peyton Manning Turns Down Gig
Peyton Manning joining the "MNF" booth "would have been the biggest hire in the sports broadcasting world in many, many years," but after Manning turned down the job, ESPN now has to "figure out who does fit," according to Frank Schwab of YAHOO SPORTS. If ESPN sticks with play-by-play man Joe Tessitore and analyst Booger McFarland, it "could work." McFarland was "very good in his role last season," even "often overshadowing" Jason Witten. Schwab: "It just wouldn't be a big splash, like Manning would have been" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/22). SPORTING NEWS' Michael McCarthy writes McFarland "could grow into the job," as ESPN execs are "high on McFarland's likeability, smarts and TV instincts." It was a "good sign for McFarland when ESPN decided to give him a prominent role in its coverage" of this year's NFL Draft, making him the "heir apparent to Witten." However, if ESPN is "not thrilled with McFarland, it could install" Louis Riddick to the "MNF" color commentator role. McFarland and Riddick "don't have the star power of Manning," but ESPN has "always been adept at growing lesser-known announcing talents" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/23). In going after Manning so publicly, the Jimmy Pitaro-led ESPN is sending a message to the NFL that his network will spare no expense to put the best people on its signature show (John Ourand, SBJ Media).