Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are obviously the top team at ESPN, with their Fox departure one of the top sports media stories of the year so far.
The move, though, meant ESPN would need to find other landing spots for what had been their Monday Night Football crew. Brian Griese departed altogether, but ESPN slotted in Dan Orlovsky alongside Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, and Laura Rutledge to comprise their #2 team for their increased doubleheader offerings this season.
On Tuesday, ESPN revealed those games and assignments while officially confirming the group in a release.
The enhanced slate includes three occurrences where ESPN will produce multiple games in the same week, including the debut of multiple Monday Night Football games on the same night (Week 2) and the first ESPN+ exclusive contest (Week 8). ESPN’s regular season will conclude, once again, with an NFL on ESPN: Doubleheader Saturday (Week 18).
In advance of the season, ESPN has re-signed Levy, Riddick and Orlovsky, with each of them, along with Rutledge, playing an integral part in ESPN’s NFL coverage and beyond. For the 2022 NFL season, as part of those multiple games in the same week/day, the new grouping will call the following games:
- Week 2: Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills (Monday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN)
- First Monday Night Football ‘Two Games, One Night’ Showcase, as Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles will also play the same night (8:30 p.m. on ABC)
- Week 8: Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars (Sunday, Oct. 30, at 9:30 a.m. on ESPN+) from Wembley Stadium in London
- First exclusive NFL game on ESPN+
- Week 18: One of the NFL on ESPN: Saturday Doubleheader games (January 7 on ABC and ESPN)
- Starts at 4:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
The group will also call both of ESPN’s preseason games: Chicago at Seattle (Aug. 18, 8 p.m.) and Atlanta at New York Jets (Aug. 22, 8 p.m.), with each matchup televised on ESPN.
Obviously this is a step down from the full MNF assignment, but at the same time, having what had been the top group working these games gives ESPN a much deeper roster of talent. In past years, when forced to come up with a secondary crew, ESPN had to patch things together or port over Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit from the college side.
Considering ESPN is likely only going to be pushing for more games going forward, this could be a solid spot for everyone involved.