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Kevin Harlan Talks MNF Interest With Scott Kaplan

“As for who he thinks should get the job, Harlan said that he never doubted ESPN was going to promote from within for the play-by-play chair.”

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Kevin Harlan

Kevin Harlan stopped by Scott & BR on Wednesday to talk about the broadcasting industry with his Westwood One colleague Scott Kaplan. Kaplan was not afraid to immediately put Harlan on the spot, asking the radio voice of Monday Night Football if he has heard the rumors that ESPN was interested in getting him and Kurt Warner out of the radio booth and on to the television broadcast.

“Well, it was around a little bit,” Harlan said. He then clarified that ALL he ever heard were rumors. “I was never approached by ESPN. No one ever told me that.”

As for who he thinks should get the job, Harlan said that he never doubted ESPN was going to promote from within for the play-by-play chair. It is the smartest move for the World Wide Leader.

“They have developed so many great, young play-by-play guys that are now in the throws of their career,” Harlan said. “And they will hire someone that will be great in that position.”

The conversation also turned to the financial courtship of some high profile broadcasters and analysts, starting with Tony Romo, who Harlan referred to as “a once-in-a-generation type guy.”

Harlan said that TV networks view the contribution of Tony Romo similar to that of a television star that gets paid millions per episode. ESPN and FOX may have made strong offers, but Harlan said CBS was never going to let Romo go anywhere, because the investment in the former Cowboys quarterback’s broadcasting career began before he even retired. Harlan said he had never seen a network make a commitment to developing a future talent like CBS made to Romo.

“They may have done a practice game in preseason [with other guys], but nothing like they did with Romo. They flew to Texas to have him do simulated games off a screen. The crew, the director, the producers, and Nantz, they all flew down to Texas. They all met. They did hours and hours of practice, walk-throughs of all the things the machines in the trucks do. (Romo) is like a cultivated, homegrown, CBS-branded guy.”

So what effect will those big numbers have on broadcaster negotiations in the future? Harlan told Kaplan that it’s not hard to imagine anyone sitting opposite from Tony Romo, Drew Brees, or anyone else with an eight-figure salary will not be satisfied.

“You can bet that is going to be the standard, and there’s gonna be play-by-play guys that say ‘If he’s worth that…well, I think I’m pretty important too.'”

Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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Sports TV News

Lisa Salters Makes Monday Night Football History Completing 11th Season on Sideline

“Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Monday night’s Cowboys/Bucs wild card playoff game set a new milestone for ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

The network tweeted that Salters completed her 11th season in that role. That makes her the longest tenured reporter in Monday Night Football history.

Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.

“When I first got the call to do Monday Night Football, I would have never thought that 10 years later I would still be doing it,” Salters said last year in a video reminiscing on ten years on Monday Night Football. “I was at home and I got a phone call from my boss Vince Doria and he said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would be interested in being a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football‘, and I couldn’t believe what he just asked me.”

Salters is also featured on network coverage of the NBA, something she’s been doing since 2005.

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Sports TV News

No Conspiracy Behind ESPN Monday Night Playoff Game Selection

“The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN has only carried NFL playoff games on Monday night for two seasons but has been a part of wild card weekends dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.

With the exception of one season, a 4-seed versus 5-seed matchup has always been covered by the Monday Night Football broadcast team in that stretch of nine seasons. That continued with Cowboys/Bucs this year.

In 2021-22, with the NFL expanding the playoff field to seven teams, the first Monday night playoff game was played. The Rams cruised past the Cardinals 34-11.

Last week, the decision was the source of much speculation. TV executives shared a number of theories about why ESPN landed the game that had the most star power in the Super Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post wrote that no speculation was necessary. The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience. The new format, the games that have a likelihood of altering seeding for the divisional rounds have already been played.

The 4/5 games this weekend proved to be pretty entertaining. The Jaguars rallied from down 27 to beat the Chargers. Al Michaels and Tony Dungy were ripped on social media for how they called a particularly exhilarating game for NBC. So it turns out Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would’ve called either one of the weekend’s best games.

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