Tessitore-McFarland "MNF" Booth Will Get Real Chance To Succeed
ESPN's decision to return "MNF" to a two-person booth with Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland gives the pair a "legitimate chance" to "win over viewers," according to Richard Deitsch of THE ATHLETIC. Last year, the booth was "centered around a rookie television analyst" in Jason Witten who would have been "better served learning the trade on lower-profile games." The booth of Tessitore and McFarland "will be infinitely better" this year. McFarland will "no longer be a field analyst," so he and Tessitore can "make eye contact with each other in real time and recognize any non-verbal cues." Both McFarland and Tessitore were "told by ESPN execs they were coming back about 10 days ago." ESPN Exec VP/Event & Studio Production Stephanie Druley said that adding a third voice to the booth this year was "never considered, mostly because she and the executive team did not think there was a compelling reason to do so" (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/1). Druley said that the "chemistry between Tessitore and McFarland was the biggest reason for moving McFarland upstairs." The AP's Joe Reedy noted before "MNF," the two "worked together when ESPN launched the SEC Network and had them on its Saturday pregame show" (AP, 5/1).
THE RIGHT FIT: SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote bringing back Tessitore and McFarland was the "only move and the right move for ESPN." It would have been "such a bad look for the network if they blew out the entire crew after only one season." It also would have been "unfair to Tessitore and McFarland to only give them one season" (SI.com, 5/1). In DC, Ben Strauss notes many broadcast analysts are QBs or former offensive players, making McFarland, who played DT, an "outlier among his peers." He will also be the "only African American on any of the top broadcast teams." Druley said, "I don't know why it's unique, but it is. It's a little astounding, but it's something we're proud of" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/2).