Last month Awful Announcing wrote about the strong possibility that Beth Mowins would call the Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader game for ESPN. That news seems to have been confirmed by SI’s Richard Deitsch this week with Mowins and new ESPN hire Rob Ryan reportedly getting the nod from the network to call the second half of the opening week doubleheader in Chargers-Broncos.

Mowins would be just the second woman after Gayle Sierens in 1987 to call an NFL game on television. And she would be the first woman to call a nationally televised game with ESPN’s Chargers-Broncos broadcast going around the country.

This move has been a long time coming and reading the tea leaves Mowins’ assignment could have been easily predicted. As we shared last month, ESPN John Skipper was asked by longtime NFL reporter Andrea Kremer last fall about a woman being in the broadcast booth for an NFL game and why it hadn’t happened yet. The pair had the following exchange where Skipper basically predicted it would happen and it was something ESPN was committed to.

Kremer:  I want to ask the boss man the question that I get asked all the time, and I know what my answer is, but I’m interested in hearing from you. What will it take for a woman to call play-by-play for an NFL game?

Skipper:  I think we’ll get there. We’re committed to it. We have women calling NBA games, women calling college football games. We expect and we look for opportunities to put women in the booth. We put Jessica Mendoza in the booth on Sunday.

Kremer:  But on NFL…

Skipper: We have not done NFL yet. We are very happy with our booth right now, we want to make that clear.

Kremer:  I’m not even saying for ESPN. It would only have to happen for the Q game at CBS. It wouldn’t be for ESPN, it would be for CBS or Fox.

Skipper: Andrea’s asking an important question. It is one of those things where we are moving people, we are making progress, that would be seen as there is really no limit now where we can expect to see women in the booth in an NFL game and that would be a good thing.

Consider it right place, right time for Mowins and ESPN. With Chris Berman now in emeritus mode and Trent Dilfer part of the network’s massive round of layoffs, there was an opening for this second MNF game. And to be quite honest, there’s nobody else in ESPN’s roster of play by play personnel that stands out as necessarily being passed over for the role. And with Mowins’ extensive work calling college football and calling NFL preseason games with the Oakland Raiders, she’s as qualified as anybody.

On the small scale, it’s the perfect opportunity for Mowins. Yes, we all know what women who work in sports have to deal with on a regular basis each and every day, especially on social media, and it sucks. Trolls will be out in full force. But considering that this game has often been staffed as a promotional vehicle for Mike & Mike with Mike Greenberg on play by play or an assignment for Berman on his way into retirement, this is the rare occasion when someone with significant play by play bonafides will be on the call. On paper, you would call it an upgrade, depending on how Rex Ryan turns out as an analyst (which will definitely be another storyline worth watching given he’s a high profile hire at a time when ESPN is slashing the talent payroll).

The larger story here though might be just how far ahead ESPN is than all of their other competitors when it comes to giving opportunities to women in broadcasting, specifically in the major professional sports. Most all of the recent breakthroughs that have come have happened through Bristol. Skipper’s commitment is real and it’s not just lip service.

Mowins’ assignment is groundbreaking when it comes to the NFL, but she now follows a couple other prominent individuals at ESPN. The network has had Doris Burke call NBA and college basketball games as a lead analyst for years and she’s been widely considered one of the best working today. Jessica Mendoza replaced Curt Schilling in a full-time capacity for Sunday Night Baseball and has done a fine job as well. Then there’s Sam Ponder, who will take over for Chris Berman as the host of Sunday NFL Countdown.

ESPN has led the way in this department inside and outside of the broadcast booth and Mowins’ assignment is just the latest example. ESPN’s work to pave the way should likewise encourage other networks to provide more opportunities to new voices.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

  • MrBull

    Will watch with sound off…espn has some weak play by play announcers for football, especially college and have shown that with this foolish 2nd NFL game opening Monday Night…
    Thanks NFL and ESPN for this crap…

  • A rookie play by play person should have either someone experienced or someone he or she has worked with. One hopes that Mowins and Ryan do some practice games together in the preseason. Especially since I think Rex is going to be a terrible color man.

    But congrats to Mowins on this overdone gig.

  • Jason Stinnett

    Anything will be better than having to listen to Berman again.That 2nd MNF opener has been so hard to stomach for years.
    Side-note Doris Burke is so much better than %75 of other announcers.

    • souvien

      or worse…Mike & Mike again (shudder!)

  • John Danknich

    Been listening to Beth Mowins call CFB games for years. Glad to see her get the chance to call an NFL game.

  • voiceofreason

    No thanks

  • Brian DeRoy

    Let me get this straight, someone with 0 NFL experience and was a lower-rung college announcer is being pushed to do a nationally televised NFL game? What about all the other PxP guys who were higher up on the college depth chart at ESPN? Sure, the bar above Berman was pretty low for PxP, but this seems like a gimmick designed to get bloggers to write about it. Looks like it worked, huh AA!

  • CarolinaHurricanesFan

    Let me get this straight, someone with 0 NFL experience and was a lower-rung college announcer is being pushed to do a nationally televised NFL game? What about all the other PxP guys who were higher up on the college depth chart at ESPN? Sure, the bar above Berman was pretty low for PxP, but this seems like a gimmick designed to get bloggers to write about it. Looks like it worked, huh AA!

    • 1bcpuckett22

      ESPN had over 30 bowl games last year and she got 1. The Liberty Bowl on a Friday afternoon which being a TCU fan I was forced to watch with the sound off. There’s a reason they bury her on ESPN 2 at noon on Saturday’s with a mediocre B1G game. Totally awful. Her TCU/Iowa State broadcast 2 years ago was among the worst I’ve heard in over 50 years of sports viewing. Among other “highlights” she actually thought TCU was in Dallas.

      Also Mr. ” this is wonderful” Yoder it might be helpful if you knew which Ryan brother might be in the booth with her. Or will it be both Rex and Rob as stated in your wonderful and progressive piece?

    • PeteF3

      The 10pm opening-week Monday night game isn’t exactly the most primo time slot of the week.

    • Walt_Gekko

      Beth Mowins actually has called Raiders Preseason games the last couple of years, so she has some experience calling NFL games.

  • PAI

    Well deserved. Unlike Jessica Mendoza, good to see a woman get the gig because she earned it this time around.

  • Walt_Gekko

    Not surprised this happened. It’s a perfect opportunity for ESPN to do this.

    ESPN’s other option would have been to have Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN’s #1 College Football announce team) do that game, but Fowler is busy the weekend preceding that opening game with US Open Tennis (Rece Davis worked with Herbstreit last year that weekend I believe).

  • gsuu

    Mowins does have play by play experience. Unfortunately, she’s never been any good. It is significant, as Yoder states, that the roster of play by play personnel at ESPN has been so depleted that you can’t really say that any one is being passed over. Thus, opportunity knocks for a mediocre (to be kind) broadcaster.

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