Before ESPN leaked to ESPN last week that Cowboys tight end Jason Witten plans to retire and join the Monday Night Football booth, Kurt Warner had been viewed as the clubhouse favorite to get the gig. The cat was so far out of the bag that Warner made a joke about looking first at the MNF schedule at the outset of NFL Network’s schedule release show last month.
On Thursday morning, ESPN leaked to ESPN that Witten was indeed joining ESPN. And that news invites speculation as to the impetus of the following tweet from Warner, posted late Wednesday afternoon: “I remember the days growing up believing the BEST person for the job — not race, not gender, not age, not pedigree — led to gaining position… trying to figure out if it ever TRULY applied (thinking I was just a naive kid) but, if so, how did we get so backwards!?”
If Warner was the fallback choice to Witten and if ESPN was ready to leak to ESPN as of Thursday morning that Witten would be joining ESPN, it’s possible if not probable if not most likely that Witten made his decision and communicated it to ESPN on Wednesday at the latest, and that Warner would have gotten word that he has won silver in a gold-medal-only contest at some point on Wednesday as well. So if Warner knew ESPN was going with Witten before Warner posted his tweet (and it would be a surprise if Warner didn’t), it’s fair to think there was a connection between his sentiment and his situation.
If that’s the case, it’s definitely a break from Warner’s vanilla-ice-cream-in-a-Styrofoam-cup image. If he’d eventually bring some of that candor to a TV broadcast booth, that would actually make Warner — who has far more TV experience than Witten and far more experience calling games as a radio analyst for Westwood One — the better choice.
Warner may be miffed that the tiebreaker wasn’t skill or experience but the fact that Witten played for the Dallas Cowboys. Never mind that Witten never played in a conference championship game or a Super Bowl. The Cowboys are still America’s Team, and they now have three former players who are perched in some of the most prominent spots in broadcasting, with Troy Aikman as the lead analyst at FOX (for Sunday and Thursday), Tony Romo as the lead analyst at CBS, and Witten as the lead analyst for Monday Night Football.
But we’re willing to handle this as a meritocracy. Answer the poll question below regarding whether it should be Witten or Warner on Monday Night Football.