Changes are coming to Monday Night Football. Big changes, potentially.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that long-time MNF producer Jay Rothman will not be returning in 2020. Per Marchand, ESPN made the decision to move on from Rothman in that role before the season.
The new producer may want his or her own on-air talent, which could spark a shake-up in the broadcast booth. Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland handled the duties this year, a season after Tessitore and Jason Witten occupied the booth and McFarland patrolled the sidelines in a specialized vehicle that drew plenty of complaints for obstructing the viewpoint of paying customers.
Marchand reports that ESPN covets CBS game producer Jim Rikhoff, who is under contract there. The more likely outcome, per Marchand, entails ESPN promoting a game producer from its army of college football game producers.
It’s a challenging, high-profile job, especially in the age of instant criticism via social media. As Marchand notes, McFarland did himself no favors on Saturday, when he suggested that the Bills should run a draw play on third and 10 and then spike the ball to stop the clock. On fourth down.
Tony Romo of CBS becomes an intriguing candidate for the gig, given that he’s due to be a free agent after the season. That said, the bloom has seemingly faded a bit for Romo, who at times seems disinterested — or at least not as interested as he should be. (At one point this year, he suggested that the clock runs during the untimed down that comes after a touchdown.) Some have suggested that Romo could ditch broadcasting altogether, especially if he believes that his golf game would justify full-time immersion in a second sport.
Then there’s Peyton Manning. With little brother Eli likely moving on from football, Peyton wouldn’t have to worry about commenting on Eli’s performance.
Whatever the final configuration of the booth, ESPN may be looking for more cachet. And cachet doesn’t come for free; if ESPN goes big-name hunting, ESPN will have to be ready to pay big money.