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#pounditSaturday, September 18, 2021

Report: ESPN focusing on internal candidates for ‘Monday Night Football’

Dan Orlovsky

ESPN has swung and missed with its attempts to bring in several high-profile replacements for its “Monday Night Football” broadcast team, and the network may be giving up on making a huge splash before the 2020 season.

ESPN has begun looking “almost exclusively” at media personalities who currently work for the network as potential replacements for analyst Booger McFarland and play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports. The top internal candidates include Louis Riddick, Dan Orlovsky, Steve Levy and Pat McAfee.

McCarthy says decreasing revenues for both ESPN and parent company Disney amid the current circumstances have factored into the new “Monday Night Football” plan. While ESPN has missed out on Tony Romo, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, other big-name candidates like Kurt Warner were previously believed to be in the running. However, ESPN has had to ask some of its top executives to take pay cuts, which could result in bad optics if the network were to hire someone like Warner.

“When you’re asking your top 100 people to take a haircut, how can you go out and pay Kurt Warner $5 million? That would be a very tough sell,” one source told McCarthy.

Orlovsky has gained national attention for his in-depth football analysis on ESPN’s “Get Up!” He has experience playing in the NFL as a former quarterback, which may make him appealing to the same ESPN executives who wanted to sign Manning, Romo and Brees.

Manning, Romo and Brees are all said to have turned down massive amounts of money from ESPN, which has been the story for the network for several years now. For whatever reason, they just can’t seem to land one of their preferred candidates for “Monday Night Football.” That has been the case since Jon Gruden left the booth to return to coaching in the NFL.

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