Our PFT Planet poll about the departure of Ron Jaworski from the Monday Night Football booth shows that a clear majority of you wanted Jaws to stay put: 39 percent flatly disagreed with ESPN’s decision, and another 36 percent wish ESPN would have kept Jaworski in place and instead removed Jon Gruden from the booth.
The least popular opinion (other than “no opinion”) is that ESPN was right to remove Jaworski, but that they should have replaced him with someone else. Only 7 percent of you feel that way.
But if ESPN were to follow that least-popular route and add a third person to the booth (which is currently slated to feature only Mike Tirico and Gruden this year), New York Daily News sports media columnist Bob Raissman has an odd suggestion about who that third person could be: Peyton Manning.
Frankly, that suggestion sounds ridiculous. All indications are that Manning expects to be on the field in 2012, and that if he’s not on the field he will be busting his butt in rehab to try to get onto the field. And all indications are also that ESPN is firmly committed to Tirico and Gruden as the members of its two-man booth.
Raissman, however, says it’s possible.
“ESPN has positioned itself perfectly to lure the Indy legend to Bristol,” Raissman writes. “If Manning wants to do TV next season, ESPN is our odds-on favorite to get him. Teams clear cap space. ESPN has cleared booth space.”
Raissman also thinks the only spot for Manning on TV is as a network’s top analyst.
“A network would not hire a star like Manning to work regional telecasts seen by 15% of the country,” Raissman writes. “If you hire Manning he must work on the No. 1 team.”
But lots of Hall of Fame players are now broadcasters, and only one of them — Troy Aikman — is the No. 1 analyst in a broadcast booth. Some, like Dan Marino, Deion Sanders and Howie Long, are studio analysts. Others, like Dan Fouts and Dan Dierdorf, are in the booth but not on the No. 1 team. Just because Manning is a star on the field doesn’t mean he would instantly be given one of the most coveted spots in broadcasting.
What the fact that this is being discussed really shows is how much everyone covets any news at all about the NFL, how much interest there is in Manning’s future, and how much interest there is in the status of the Monday Night Football booth.
The good news is that we’re guaranteed to get some real news on Manning by March 8, the day the Colts owe him $28 million. The bad news is that if you don’t like this kind of offseason speculation, you’ve still got more than six months to wait before the real football starts again.