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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Report: ESPN wants to pair Al Michaels with Peyton Manning for ‘Monday Night Football’

Al Michaels

ESPN was unable to lure Tony Romo away from CBS, but that does not mean the higher-ups in Bristol are giving up on trying to make a huge addition to their “Monday Night Football” broadcast. ESPN still has a plan — a very big and potentially unrealistic one.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN executives have dreams of hiring Al Michaels away from NBC and pairing him with Peyton Manning. It goes without saying that a duo of Michaels and Manning would excite fans and rival the CBS pairing of Romo and Jim Nantz, but Michaels is under contract with NBC through 2022. One way that ESPN could explore working around that would be a … trade?

As Marchand notes, Michaels has been involved in one broadcaster trade already. When John Madden left ABC’s “Monday Night Football” for NBC in 2006, Michaels informed ABC parent company ESPN that he wanted out of his deal. ESPN released Michaels from his contract, but NBC had to send the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to ESPN as part of the deal. Oswald was the precursor to the creation of Mickey Mouse, and the rights to the character were then owned by NBC’s parent company Universal. The Disney family wanted Oswald back, so the rabbit was included as part of a deal for Michaels.

You can’t make this stuff up, and the odds of it being recreated in some way seem incredibly slim. However, NBC may already have a future plan in place for when Michaels leaves or retires, as Mike Tirico is expected to take on a bigger role in the near future and could even call some NFL games for NBC in 2020.

Disney/ESPN has plenty of incentive to spend huge in pursuit of Michaels and Manning, as the network wants to add more NFL games going forward and potentially an ABC/ESPN Super Bowl. Having Michaels and Manning would obviously help their upcoming negotiations, as Marchand noted.

Manning has yet to show a legitimate interest in broadcasting, but that hasn’t stopped the massive offers from flowing in. If ESPN can somehow offer him an opportunity to work alongside Michaels, Manning may have to reconsider.

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