Monday Night Football was in Chicago this week, and while Bears fans got to see a win over Seattle behind their new star Khalil Mack, they still had some complaints. Obviously some were focused on Mitch Trubisky’s underwhelming performance, but many more were centered on ESPN’s halftime show.
This year, ESPN is attempting what they’re calling a “commercial-free” halftime, brought about through a sponsorship deal with Hyundai. The deal means a few things, including a string of musical performances. Last night, it was a music video from Cheat Codes.
— Cheat Codes (@CheatCodesMusic) September 17, 2018
Normally that’s something fans can either tune out of, but last night at Soldier Field, Brian Urlacher was given his Hall of Fame ring at halftime in a ceremony that obviously wasn’t shown. It was mentioned a few times, and Urlacher himself made an appearance on the broadcast, with cameras finding him sitting in the suite level watching the game. There was also a brief mention of his heroics in the Bears legendary Monday night comeback over the Cardinals. (The “They are who we thought they were!” game.)
But any Bears fan hoping to catch some of the ceremony honoring Urlacher was out of luck, and they weren’t pleased about it.
Espn is really showing cheat codes over Urlacher being honored…. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING
— Slim Bouler (@ShooterMcConlon) September 18, 2018
Hey @espn no one cares about cheat codes. Show us the Urlacher ring presentation
— Garret (@gbears93) September 18, 2018
— Angelo Lopez (@J20Lopez) September 18, 2018
Today, Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman told the Chicago Tribune that they should have found a way to include some of the ceremony.
“That was a miss,” Jay Rothman, ESPN’s vice president of production and “MNF” producer, conceded Tuesday morning. “We should have played it back. We did not play it back.
“Our halftime show does what it does. But we could have inserted it to start the third quarter and should have.”
ESPN’s halftime show strategy is pretty tied in to the Hyundai sponsorship at this point, but it’s fair to wonder what sort of flexibility they have for events. The Urlacher ceremony is one thing, but what if a major injury happened just before halftime? Or something else that required more analysis or a different mood than a music video from Cheat Codes? Is the halftime show becoming more of a separate entity from the game itself?
It’s definitely something to monitor in the coming weeks.