The network has bumped up the release date for “The Last Dance” to April 19, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported on Monday night. “The Last Dance” is a 10-part documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Marchand says the announcement will be made official on “GMA” Tuesday.
The documentary was originally set to be released in June, but there have been calls across social media for ESPN to bump up the release date to help satisfy the needs of sports fans.
This is welcome programming for sports fans, but I do have one complaint: why do it during the same time as the NFL Draft, which is April 23-25? Why not before or after? Hopefully they will stagger the schedule around the draft and spread things around for fans.
ESPN is desperate to make a major addition to its “Monday Night Football” broadcast, but there appear to be no options remaining for the 2020 season. As a result, the network is shifting its focus further down the road. How far down the road may depend upon how much longer Drew Brees intends to play.
Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage reported on Sunday that ESPN has made an eight-figure offer to Brees to make him the lead analyst for “Monday Night Football.” ESPN is said to be willing to strike an agreement now with Brees that would assure his spot in the booth when he is done playing. Network executives hope such an arrangement would allow them to avoid a potential bidding war with NBC, which might also be interested in Brees.
Brees recently signed a new two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, though it is unclear if he plans to play in 2021. ESPN could probably stick with Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore for another season, but the network seems intent on replacing the duo. If Brees is going to play two more seasons, that would complicate ESPN’s plan.
ESPN tried to lure Tony Romo away from CBS before the former Dallas Cowboys star signed an extension, and they also made a mammoth offer to Peyton Manning. The fact that they are trying to strike a deal with Brees when he is still playing in the NFL says a lot about how their search has gone.
ESPN is looking to add a huge name to its “Monday Night Football” broadcast for next season, but that big hire is not going to be Peyton Manning.
Manning has officially turned down ESPN’s massive offer, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports. The former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback is not yet ready to commit to the weekly schedule of the NFL season as an analyst, and it remains unclear if he ever will be.
Manning has now turned down ESPN and other major networks on multiple occasions. While he has done two shows — “Peyton Places” and “Detail” — for ESPN+, working as a broadcaster would involve a much more demanding schedule, and Manning appears to be enjoying retirement with his family.
Marchand previously reported that ESPN’s dream scenario was to lure Al Michaels away from NBC and pair him with Manning. The only way ESPN could hire Michaels would be via a trade with NBC, and it doesn’t sound like the rival network has any interest in a scenario like that.
Those holding out hope for an expedited release of ESPN’s upcoming Chicago Bulls documentary are probably out of luck.
In an interview this week with Front Row, Burke Magnus, the executive vice president of programming acquisitions and scheduling for the network, indicated that an early release for “The Last Dance” is unlikely.
“Overall, any original content project that we can conceivably move up, we are obviously considering that, including films,” said Magnus. “I know some have asked about ‘The Last Dance’ and the reality is that the production of that film has not yet been completed, so we are limited there at the moment. Obviously, you can’t air it until it’s done.”
Rumors of an early release for the documentary, which is set to give an in-depth look at the 1997-98 Bulls season, began swirling in recent days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, ESPN began advertising the documentary as “coming soon” instead of the June 2020 release date previously announced.
ESPN is looking to make some major upgrades to its NFL broadcasting before next season, but the chances of Al Michaels being a part of those changes looks very slim.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported last week that ESPN executives have dreams of hiring Michaels away from NBC and pairing him with Peyton Manning on “Monday Night Football.” Since Michaels is still under contract with NBC, the only way ESPN would be able to hire him is by offering NBC some sort of compensation. According to a new report from Marchand, NBC is not interested in a trade for its legendary play-by-play man.
ESPN reportedly approached NBC with the idea of talking about a trade package for Michaels, but NBC declined.
“We look forward to Al completing his contract and calling ‘Sunday Night Football’ games on NBC,” NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes told the New York Post.
Michaels, 75, is under contract with NBC through 2022. There’s a good chance Mike Tirico will take over as the lead man on the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast once Michaels’ contract expires, and Tirico could even call some games beginning next season. It’s possible that ESPN could convince NBC to talk trade at some point before then, and Michaels may also choose to sign with ESPN if he becomes a “free agent” in two years and does not want to retire.
While the idea of a trade involving a play-by-play broadcaster seems unusual, it is not unprecedented. 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.
Manning has turned ESPN down twice in the past, but Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy says the network is now prepared to top the Romo deal and offer Manning $18-$20 million.
Manning has an existing relationship with ESPN, hosting “Peyton’s Places” for ESPN+, which could help their efforts to sign him. Manning reportedly had more interest in potentially running or owning a team, but this type of money might persuade him to go into broadcasting.
Not only would Manning likely improve the quality of the MNF telecast, but he would also help bring more credibility for ESPN’s product. That’s a big factor considering ESPN’s contract with the league is ending after 2021, and the network is hoping to position itself for potentially more attractive games, and perhaps a Super Bowl.
Rivers is 38 and was the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft. He loves football, has tons of passion, and is well known by football fans. He might not be able to bring the humor and predictive powers as Tony Romo, but Rivers would likely match Tony’s passion.
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.
ESPN was the other major player in the Tony Romo sweepstakes, but now that their main target has re-signed with CBS, they’ll have to look elsewhere if they want to retool their “Monday Night Football” telecast.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, the network is likely to ask Peyton Manning if he would be interested in taking over the “MNF” commentator role. Manning has been listed as a potential analyst option ever since he retired, but he has been reluctant to take the plunge. However, he has a relationship with ESPN through his work for ESPN+, which could make a difference.
Now that his brother Eli has retired, Peyton may be more open to it, and he’d probably have a hard time turning down the money Romo got, too. It may ultimately depend on how desperate ESPN is to get Manning into the fold.
Josina Anderson has quickly climbed up the ladder to become one of the most respected reporters in football since ESPN hired her nearly a decade ago, but she could be headed for a breakup with the network.
Anderson’s contract with ESPN is set to expire this summer, and Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that the two sides may decide to part ways. No decision has been made yet, but ESPN typically extends its top talent well before contracts expire if they plan on keeping them around. The fact that Anderson only has a few months remaining on her deal and has not signed a new contract with ESPN could be telling.
Anderson has close connections with some of the NFL’s biggest stars, and she frequently provides scoops about them. While ESPN will always remain at the top of the NFL reporting world as long as they have Adam Schefter, losing Anderson would be a big blow.
Antonio Brown granted Anderson an interview recently that aired on Saturday, and she asked the free agent receiver some very difficult questions about the sexual misconduct allegations against him. You can see that portion of the interview at the 4:09 mark below: