Last week ESPN Monday Night Football commentator Sean McDonough talked to AA about a call of his earlier this season that went viral. McDonough expressed his frustration with a number of penalties being called during the Jets-Cardinals game.
McDonough joked about the call with AA and said that he should be connecting with fans at home, saying what they’re thinking. He said this about the call:
“If I knew it was so easy to utter one sentence and become the ‘bravest man in broadcasting,’” ESPN announcer Sean McDonough laughingly told me, “maybe I’d find a way to say something similarly great.”
“My philosophy while doing this has always been I should be talking about what I think the people at home are thinking while they are watching it,” he said. “My response was, ‘Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how many flags they are throwing in this game on plays like that.’ But you know, that got extrapolated in some of the articles to be, ‘Sean McDonough says the officiating is the reason that people aren’t watching the games.’”
McDonough had another one of those moments last night that got people talking on social media and cheering his honesty. Detroit Lions DT A’Shawn Robinson was called for a personal foul when he lifted up Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and threw him to the ground. Robinson was penalized for tackling Elliott too forcefully and McDonough was wondering what exactly he was supposed to do instead.
It’s not too common that a broadcaster, especially an NFL broadcaster, speaks so freely in voicing the same critiques that fans at home are expressing. The NFL is known to be super-controlling and a mega micromanager, but McDonough told AA that the league office has been hands off with his broadcasting.
That’s a very good thing. (And maybe a surprising thing given the NFL’s past history.) Hopefully it stays this way. The reason why people are so critical of the rules and the officiating is because we’re all football fans and we all want the games to be better. And if the people calling the games can’t talk about the good calls and the bad open and honestly then there never will be the accountability in place to push the NFL to make it better.