Having been shut out on the Tony Romo sweepstakes, ESPN is apparently thinking even bigger for a new “Monday Night Football” booth.
The dream scenario, as presented by the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, is going to take a lot of work. And money.
According to Marchand, ESPN wants to get Al Michaels from NBC to be its new play-by-play voice for “Monday Night Football,” then pair him with Peyton Manning, who has been the white whale of the sports broadcasting world since his retirement. And a report said ESPN is willing to pay a fortune to land him.
That would be one heck of a splash. If it’s even possible.
ESPN reportedly wants Al Michaels, Peyton Manning
Marchand said in the story that ESPN is strongly considering changing from the announcing team of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland. That “Monday Night Football” booth was mostly panned last season.
ESPN tried to get Romo, but CBS gave the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback a staggering 10-year, $180 million deal. That meant it was on to Plan B for ESPN.
While Michaels is apparently on ESPN’s radar, enough that Marchand’s sources have tipped him off to the network’s interest, Michaels is at NBC for two more years and ESPN has yet to talk to NBC about trying to acquire Michaels’ services, the Post wrote. It seems hard to believe ESPN would be able to give enough compensation to NBC to get Michaels, and then pay Michaels — one of the greatest announcers ever — and also Manning, who now can use Romo’s CBS deal as a negotiating tool.
But hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream big.
ESPN trying to reshuffle its booth
Perhaps the biggest question from Marchand’s story might be why NBC would even consider letting Michaels leave. “Sunday Night Football” is a wildly successful show for the network and Michaels is an institution on NFL broadcasts. Perhaps money, and the availability of Mike Tirico to take over on “SNF,” could make it worthwhile. ESPN reportedly wanted to get Michaels on board to team with Romo before Romo chose to stay with CBS. It still seems like a bit of a Hail Mary.
Manning has also resisted getting into the broadcast booth since retiring after the 2015 season, though stories through the years have said he didn’t want to be an analyst while his brother Eli was an active player. Eli Manning retired earlier this year, eliminating that obstacle if it ever was one.
If ESPN can somehow pull off a Michaels-Manning combination, it would be one of the biggest stories of the NFL offseason, and that’s rare air for broadcasting news. And it would make a lot of people who have ripped ESPN’s current “MNF” booth pretty happy.
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