Peyton Manning may enter the broadcasting world next season, but it will apparently not be with ESPN.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Manning has decided not to join the Worldwide Leader, which had hoped to install him as Jon Gruden’s replacement on Monday Night Football. Per Marchand, Manning has not ruled out linking up with Fox for the network’s new Thursday Night Football package. He reportedly prefers Fox to ESPN because the latter gig would provide a lighter schedule, leaving his weekends free.
Sources have told The Post that they thought Manning would prefer Thursdays to Mondays, because it would not require working the weekend. Announcers usually show up two days before a game. Fox’s 11 games schedule is shorter than ESPN’s 19 games (which includes the Pro Bowl and two exhibitions)
As Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder wrote earlier this week, ESPN was the logical choice for Manning if he wanted television to be the focus of his post-playing life, while Fox made more sense if he viewed broadcasting as a side gig. Of course, the former quarterback maintains the option of refusing both networks and doing something else entirely.
Money was presumably not a large factor in Manning’s decision to spurn ESPN, given that both ESPN and Fox were reportedly willing to pay Manning a whopping $10 million a year.
With Manning out of the fold, ESPN will likely look internally for its next MNF game analyst, with Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss and Louis Riddick among the possibilities. ESPN had Hasselbeck call the Pro Bowl in January in an apparent audition for MNF, while Riddick said this week that he very much hopes to be considered and Moss remains a fan-favorite option.
Whoever ESPN chooses as its next Monday Night Football analyst will work alongside a play-by-play man who is new to the role. Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported Friday that Sean McDonough will step out of that role and return to college football duties, including the national championship game, while Marchand revealed that McDonough’s replacement will be longtime college play-by-play man Joe Tessitore.
Sports Illustrated can report that Sean McDonough has mutually agreed to return to college football for ESPN later this year. He will no longer call Monday Night Football.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) March 10, 2018
Joe Tessitore is the new MNF play-by-player.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) March 10, 2018
So after all that, here’s what we know:
- Monday Night Football on ESPN will feature Tessitore alongside an analyst who is not Peyton Manning.
- Fox’s Thursday Night Football broadcast booth remains up in the air (with NBC’s Mike Tirico as a possible option) and might include Manning in an analyst role.
Clearly, there remains much news to come.