As expected, ESPN has announced that the crew calling Monday Night Football this season will be play-by-play man Joe Tessitore, former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in the booth, former Buccaneers and Colts defensive tackle Booger McFarland as an on-field analyst, and Lisa Salters as the sideline reporter.
One unexpected piece of news in ESPN’s announcement: The new Monday night team will debut when the Rams face the Raiders in Oakland in the late game of the Week One Monday Night Football doubleheader. In every previous year that the NFL has had two Week One Monday night games, the top commentating team has worked the early game and a backup crew has worked the late game. This year ESPN apparently figured there would be synergy with having its new team work former announcer Jon Gruden’s return to Oakland, and also figured that the Rams-Raiders game would be better than the Lions-Jets game earlier in the night.
ESPN has not yet announced who will call the Lions-Jets game.
After Gruden left to return to coaching, ESPN decided to make significant changes to the Monday night crew, moving play-by-play man Sean McDonough to college football and bringing in Tessitore as his replacement, then persuading Witten to retire from the Cowboys and adding McFarland as Monday Night Football’s first ever on-field analyst. Their first opportunity to show they can improve upon the old broadcast will come in an old Monday night broadcaster’s return to coaching.