A new season of Monday Night Football kicks off this week, and the main ESPN broadcast crew is ready to carry momentum into their second year together.
ESPN’s Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, and Brian Griese, fielded questions on a media conference call about their upcoming season, things they can work on to make the best possible broadcast, and much more.
The crew answered questions about the good and bad from their performance in 2020.
“What worked? I think, first of all, we did have the benefit of having the Monday Night Football game even prior to last season,” Levy said on the conference call. “That second game of the double-header. That allowed us to get a feel. Obviously, Griese and I have done four years of college together, and Louis and I had done a lot of SportsCenter stuff both in Bristol and on the road, SportsCenter at the Super Bowl, but actually getting a game under our belt, that first game, the last home opener in Oakland for the Raiders, I think that really helped get us going and helped us understand what this booth could be like.”
Griese piggybacked off of the answer and revealed that the crew met in the offseason to assess their performance and highlight places to get better in 2021.
“You know,” Griese began. “We’re not under any false pretenses in understanding there’s three voices up there, and that’s different. I think one of the things that we took away, and I know that I took away from a year ago in watching those tapes is we can talk less but say more.
“That’s not an easy thing to do,” Griese continued. “I think with three people up there, nobody wants to hear wall-to-wall talking, especially now that fans are going to be back in the stands, and we’re going to want to capture that emotion from the fans after a big play or after a touchdown.”
Riddick expanded on the “less is more” mantra and admitted the crew needs to be more conversational at times.
“What we’re going to get better at I think is just being more conversational and hearing us play off of one another and really talking the game through,” Riddick answered. “Whether that be in the open or as the game is happening coming out of halftime. I think you’ll see that it will be something that you’ll enjoy listening to, and it’ll be very informative, it’ll be educational, and we want to entertain people along the way, and I think we’re very much so dead set on making sure that happens.”
ESPN is offering more options than ever for fans with ESPN and ESPN+ to watch Monday Night Football. Yet, the main crew still has the most eyes tracking their analysis of all the action.
Women in Sports Media Celebrate Kate Scott Joining 76ers
“The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from the women throughout sports media this week.”
Kate Scott is breaking new ground, and the sports broadcasting community took notice.
Scott joined Lisa Byington as the only full-time female voices of NBA franchises when the Philadelphia 76ers announced her addition this week. She replaces longtime TV play-by-play voice Marc Zumoff.
“Being the voice of the 76ers is a dream come true,” Scott said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “As a kid playing hoops alone in my driveway, I actually used to imagine I was Allen Iverson; the clock would wind down in my head, people would scream, ‘You’re too small! You don’t belong!’ But I’d fade away, hit the shot, and the crowd in my mind would go wild.
“To now get the opportunity to be the voice of that team is incredible, and I look forward to earning the respect and trust of the phenomenal city of Philadelphia, and 76ers fans everywhere, one call and one game at a time.”
Scott seemingly busts down barriers every year. She recently became the first woman to call Olympic men’s basketball as part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Tokyo 2020, where she covered both men’s and women’s games.
“Kate’s energy, passion, and tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball made her the ideal candidate to usher in a new era of 76ers basketball on NBC Sports Philadelphia,” Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said. “We’re thrilled that she’ll call our city home and look forward to the lasting connections and memories she’ll make with the best fans in sports. Kate and Alaa [Abdelnaby] are a dynamic broadcast pairing that 76ers fans will enjoy watching on the call this season and beyond.”
The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from women throughout sports media this week.
ESPN Taking Sunday NFL Countdown To Foxboro
ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.
Tom Brady going against his former team the New England Patriots is something that every NFL fan will be front and center next Sunday. It seems that ESPN is no exception, as they have announced that Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.
Will ESPN bring in some Boston-centric guests? It is possible, although the Sunday NFL Countdown crew already features two former Patriots in Randy Moss and Tedy Bruschi and a former Boston College quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck. Even Rex Ryan is tangentially connected to the Patriots, having coached two of the team’s division rivals.
The dynamic between these charismatic former players and coach in a live show setting should be one that the fans should be very excited for.
For the live show, ESPN is encouraging all fans to come out to watch free of charge starting at 10 a.m EST. For those who come an hour early to the show, there will be a giveaway starting at 9 a.m.
Kickoff for the actual game will be at 8:20 p.m EST on NBC. In that way, this won’t feel entirely different from College GameDay at ESPN, with the show in the morning before all of the kickoffs and the big game not until primetime.
Ron Jaworski: Monday Night Football ‘5 Remarkable Years Of My Life’
“The resources that ESPN threw into Monday Night Football, we had more people than football teams have. They wanted to be right and we think we delivered a great product.”
From 2007-2011, Ron Jaworski was a part of the Monday Night Football broadcast for ESPN, so he would have the inside scoop on the MNF experience.
On the podcast NFL Explained with Michael Yam and Aditi Kinkhabwala, Jaworski was one of the guests along with Melissa Stark from the NFL Network on an episode solely about the history of Monday Night Football. In fact, Jaworski found out he got the job while he was at an Arena Football League game as part owner and team president of the Philadelphia Soul.
“It was absolutely crazy…We were playing a game and that’s when I got notified I was going to be asked to do Monday Night Football, at halftime of that game. I was told, Norby Williamson at the time was the coordinating producer, he came late to the game because his plane was delayed. At halftime, he told me you are going to get the deal for Monday Night Football, but you can’t tell anyone.”
The reason that Williamson couldn’t go public with the news that Jaworski was joining Monday Night Football was because he had not told Joe Theismann what was going on with the changes.
“Norby was very professional about his approach. Joe Theismann was calling games with Tony Kornheiser and Mike Tirico. He said I’m going to meet with Joe personally and let him know a change is being made, so I totally respected the professionalism of Norby and Joe handled it very well. To this day, we remain dear friends. My wife was sitting next to me at the game, so I asked could I tell my wife?”
“I couldn’t have been more ecstatic. To work with Mike Tirico, who was kind of my mentor all along and Tony Kornheiser, who I worked with for a couple of years and Jon Gruden. It was five remarkable years of my life. Chip Dean was a great producer. Jay Rothman was absolutely outstanding. The resources that ESPN threw into Monday Night Football, we had more people than football teams have. They wanted to be right and we think we delivered a great product.”
On the podcast, Jaworski did talk about the moment that he swore during a game back in 2011 between the Patriots and the Dolphins:
“I didn’t think I did, but I think I did. It was slightly embarrassing and at the time was very embarrassing. We went to a break and Jay Rothman says, Jaws, I think you swore. I did say ‘shit’, so it wasn’t like a bad word. Jay says, you got to apologize. When we came out of the break, the camera was directly on me and I got Gruden and Tirico next to me and they were laughing.”
While it had to be an embarrassing moment for Jaworski, it did get him some recognition from Howard Stern on Stern’s radio show, which stood out to someone in the Jaworski household:
“The next morning, my daughter, who watches the games, says ‘Howard Stern is talking about you on radio’. My daughter was more impressed with that. Stern said some refreshing comments saying that’s how Jaws calls a game.”
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