Former ESPN Monday Night Football voice Sean McDonough appeared on WEEI’s Kirk and Callahan Thursday morning, and naturally, his time as the voice of MNF was discussed a whole lot. McDonough didn’t really hold back in his comments, stating that calling college football was “more fun” than Monday Night Football and that he felt secondary to Jon Gruden in the booth.
“I say that after a lot of reflection and mostly a lot of belief that, ultimately, what is the most important thing in life is to be happy,” McDonough said. “As much as it was a great honor to be the voice of ‘Monday Night Football’ –– and you guys know me well enough, and certainly a lot of my friends and family do –– it wasn’t a tremendous amount of fun the last two years. When I took my ego out of it, when the conversation about a reboot of MNF came up, when I took the ego part of it out, and rationalized it, I really could be fine with not being the voice of MNF, then it became easy. I love college football. For me, it’s more fun, and that’s a personal taste.”
Before discussing how he felt like Gruden was the focus of the broadcast, McDonough also preached to the choir about the godawful MNF schedule over the last couple of seasons.
“If you go back and look at the schedule, generally we got one of the worst NFL games each week. You’re trying to make something sound interesting and exciting that isn’t,” he explained. “For me, part of it was just the way the booth was set up the last two years. It was really geared around Jon Gruden. That’s not unusual, TV really is an analyst-driven medium. Jon had a particular set of skills that he did really well, and foremost among them was analyzing the play, breaking down the play, ‘here’s why they ran that play, here’s why it worked, here’s what this guy did or didn’t do.’ It was really football heavy, X and O heavy, and I think most play-by-play guys, all play-by-play guys, would’ve felt like a bit of a bystander.”
McDonough also says that he felt like his criticisms of the NFL likely pissed the league off, but that he didn’t think the league’s feelings towards him led to ESPN removing him from the broadcasts.
“I know there are people within the NFL who probably wish I talked less about the officiating, or whatever it was that rankled them. I was assured by people at ESPN as they were considering a reboot that that wasn’t really an issue,” he said. “I’d like to think ESPN would ignore that. When you pay the league $2 billion per year, you ought to be able to pick who your own announcers are.”
The interview is a pretty interesting look into the mind of a guy who doesn’t often open up about his job and the company he works for.
Last week, ESPN announced that Joe Tessitore would be replacing McDonough as the voice of Monday Night Football, alongside an analyst to be named later. Plenty of names, including Matt Hasselbeck, Peyton Manning, Greg Olsen, Louis Riddick, and Joe Thomas, have been linked to Gruden’s former job, but no decision has been made yet.