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Joe Tessitore & Booger McFarland Out At MNF

“Although the duo won’t be part of the new Monday Night Football booth, Tessitore and McFarland will remain in prominent roles for ESPN.”

Brandon Contes

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Throughout the NFL offseason, ESPN has recruited potential replacements for their Monday Night Football booth. But as much as they’ve worked to find a new crew, Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland remained a possible fallback option, until now. 

The incumbent and highly scrutinized Monday Night Football team will not return for the 2020 NFL season according to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic. Although the duo won’t be part of the new Monday Night Football booth, Tessitore and McFarland will remain in prominent roles for ESPN. 

New positions have not been announced by ESPN, but Tessitore will likely return to being a lead college football voice, just like his Monday Night Football predecessor, Sean McDonough did. McFarland is expected to have an NFL studio role. After weeks of speculation, we can officially say Tessitore and McFarland are no longer part of Monday Night Football, but who fills the booth remains a question. 

Since Mike Tirico departed for NBC, ESPN’s Monday Night Football team has been a revolving door of announcers beginning with Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden. After one season, McDonough returned to college football, with Gruden accepting a 10-year contract offer to coach the Raiders. The booth then featured Tessitore and Jason Witten, with McFarland in a failed attempt of ingenuity, the BoogerMobile. After a very disappointing broadcast tenure, Witten returned to his NFL career, leaving just Tessitore and McFarland on the call. 

But, the next time Monday Night Football is played on ESPN, it again will feature a different set of announcers. The network attempted to recruit high profile names such as Al Michaels, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees in an effort to stabilize the broadcast. But ESPN was unable to lure any of them, which leaves appointing from within as their mostly likely option. 

According to the New York Post, a pairing of play-by-play voice Steve Levy alongside analysts Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick or Brian Griese are the leading candidates to fill the booth. Other options have included their lead college broadcast team, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, while longshots Randy Moss, Pat McAfee, Nate Burleson and Kurt Warner could also be considered.

Sports TV News

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Sports TV News

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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