The opening Monday Night Football doubleheader has led to some interesting commentators over the years, from Mike, Mike, and Mike (Greenberg, Golic and Ditka) to Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer to Berman, Steve Young and Lindsay Czarniak to Beth Mowins and Rex Ryan. The unusual team has generally called the late game and let the main MNF booth handle the early one, but ESPN flipped that script last year, having Mowins, Brian Griese, and Laura Rutledge call the first game before the Joe Tessitore-Jason Witten-Booger McFarland group did the late one. On Wednesday, the network announced their announcers for the doubleheader this fall (Sept. 9), and the unusual booth is back to the late game, but Griese and Rutledge are the only carryovers there; they’ll be joined by Steve Levy and Louis Riddick.
Here’s more from ESPN’s release:
Play-by-play voice Steve Levy, analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick and reporter Laura Rutledge will call the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game on ESPN as part of the opening-night doubleheader to kick off Monday Night Football’s 50th season on September 9 at 10:15 p.m. ET / 7:15 p.m. PT.
This AFC West matchup will follow Houston Texans-New Orleans Saints (7 p.m. ET), which will feature the debut of ESPN’s new MNF commentator team: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland and Lisa Salters.
Levy and Griese work together on ESPN college football and have called Broncos preseason games locally in Denver. They will be joined in the booth by Riddick, one of ESPN’s top NFL analysts – and a one-time Raiders player under Jon Gruden. Levy and Riddick will be making their MNF debuts.
…“The Monday Night Football doubleheader presents a unique opportunity to try new booth pairings by combining our talented NFL and college football voices into one presentation,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production. “This team will bring together Steve and Brian, one of our top college booths, with Louis, who has distinguished himself in our NFL studio, and Laura, who continues to excel in her many reporting assignments.”
It seems to make sense to shift the unusual booth back to the late game, especially as the early game looks like the stronger matchup this year. It’s interesting to see ESPN slide in Levy for Mowins, but there’s maybe some logic there given his regular work with Griese. It’s also notable to see Riddick get a shot at calling a game; people have been lobbying for him as a MNF analyst for a long while, and he even said last year he wanted a chance at that, but he was passed over in favor of Witten and McFarland. ESPN kept Riddick around with a new extension, though, and this seems like a good opportunity for them to give him a prominent slot and see how he does as a game analyst. We’ll see how this broadcast goes.