Usually, ESPN is involved in covering athletes or teams that want to pair up certain players together like Steph and KD, Baker and OBJ, and most recently, Lebron and Anthony Davis. Now, ESPN is the team trying to create its own dynamic duo. Not in basketball or football but in the realm of broadcasting.
Monday Night Football has been ESPN’s crown jewel for a couple of decades now and has made Mondays nights a staple in the NFL season due to great commentators and analysts. Guys like Mike Tirico, Chris Berman, Jon Gruden, and John Madden have brought the game to life for football fans everywhere. Though the current broadcast duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland have been good, ESPN may not be satisfied with them being there primetime duo going forward.
During this football offseason, ESPN tried to poach Tony Romo away from CBS as he’s become the hottest commodity in broadcasting due to his vast knowledge of the game mixed with his charisma on camera. CBS recognized the looming threat and gave him a 10 year, $180 million dollar deal. ESPN lost out on Romo but didn’t settle on its quest for a better star-studded duo, so they set their sights on two Hall of Famers in their respective fields. One is a familiar face to ESPN and the other has had countless legendary moments on Monday Night Football: Al Michaels and Peyton Manning. They do not currently work at ESPN but the network is hoping to convince each of them to join forces and create a powerhouse of a duo on Monday nights.
This is closer to a pipe dream than reality at the moment due to certain issues. One, Al Michaels does not work for ESPN anymore. He was the play by play announcer for Monday Night Football from 1986-2005 on ABC but has been working for NBC since 2006 when the two companies made an unprecedented trade. Michaels was traded to NBC in exchange for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the predecessor of Mickey Mouse. It would take a lot of persuasive conversations for NBC to trade him to ESPN seeing that he still has two years left on his contract. NBC seems to be more than content with Michaels, evident by NBC spokesman Greg Hughes saying “Al is under contract for the foreseeable future.”
The second issue is that Peyton Manning is retired. Though there have been many speculations about his eventual broadcast debut, Manning has been steadfast in his commitment to retirement so far. No network has been able to convince him to join the booth and display his football expertise on live television. ESPN is hoping that between a hefty contract and a Hall of Fame partner, that will be enough to sway Manning to join.
Only time will tell if ESPN will be able to get its dream duo of Manning and Michaels in the broadcast booth together.