I have made no secret of the fact that I am happy to be rid of Jon Gruden as the MNF color analyst. I have nothing against Gruden personally; I hope he is successful as the coach of the Raiders; I just really disliked his way of broadcasting football games. I guess it is because I am so glad that someone else will be doing that job next year that I have been tracking the stories about who might be his replacement much more closely that I would be following analogous stories. The latest candidate for the job – – according to reports and Tweets and rumors and the like – – is Peyton Manning. Unless, of course, you choose to believe those other reports/Tweets/rumors that he is uninterested in going into the broadcast booth because he wants to go into an NFL ownership position.
You would have to be a real newbie around here to think I am going to spring some inside info on you here and that I have somehow connected with Peyton Manning personally on this topic. There are three key words regarding that situation:
- Did – – Not – – Happen!
Rather than fuel the rumor mill, I prefer to try to take a more analytical look at the MNF job and the potential candidates. Let me start with Peyton Manning since he is the “Flavor of the Week” in the blogosphere. My guess is that I would be more than happy with him as the second voice on the mic for MNF; he is intelligent, articulate, humorous and Lord knows, he understands pro football. I would like to pose this utter rhetorical question regarding his “candidacy” for that job:
- Would he be happy/comfortable analyzing a game on TV in which his brother, Eli, was playing?
I can imagine that being an uncomfortable situation and it was one Jon Gruden faced when MNF had games with the Skins as one of the teams. The difference is that when Jon Gruden took the MNF job, his brother was still involved in the Arena League; he did not face the virtual certainty that he would have to do a game with his brother on the sideline. For Peyton Manning, it is a virtual certainty that he will face that situation somewhere down the road. Is that a big deal for him? I don’t read minds…
ESPN says that Matt Hasselbeck will do the color for the Pro Bowl game this week and lots of folks have interpreted this as an audition for Hasselbeck. I am sure that it is to the extent that if Hasselbeck throws up all over his shoes on the broadcast, the network will look elsewhere for the permanent MNF analyst. Let me be clear; Matt Hasselbeck does very well in ESPN’s studio shows on the NFL; he has done good work on NFL Live. However, there is a little voice in the back of my head that keeps saying that ESPN might want a bit more “star power”/”splash” in the broadcast booth. No inside info here, but the feeling is persistent.
So, who might be in line for interviews by the ESPN moguls (in alphabetical order)?
- Randy Moss: Lots of people have named him as a key contender for this job. He is already on the ESPN payroll and should “know his way around” the organization, but he would not be my choice for the same reason the next candidate would not be my choice…
- Rex Ryan: Like Randy Moss, he is also already part of ESPN. Also, like Randy Moss his TV style/persona is a ton of bombast. The MNF booth does not need an infusion of bombast.
- Kurt Warner: I have heard him do the color on a couple of MNF games on the radio and I liked what I heard.
- Steve Young: He would be my first choice for the job – – but according to reports, he has said that he does not want the job. Too bad…
Let me lay out the criteria I would hope the ESPN moguls would use to find the next MNF color analyst. Let’s say that the ideal candidate is Joe Flabeetz.
- Joe Flabeetz has to know NFL football from being a player and/or a coach at the NFL level. We have gone through “outsider analysts” and I would want to avoid another Dennis Miller or Tony Kornheiser or Howard Cosell unless ESPN is going to go with a 3-person booth.
- Joe Flabeetz has to have a discernable personality; we do not need a robot behind a microphone.
- Joe Flabeetz has to be articulate in the English language. He can use that fluency to create his own phrases or jargon as John Madden did. He cannot, however, be a person who cannot communicate outside the world of jargon or “inside jokes”.
- Joe Flabeetz has to be willing and able to offer critical commentary when necessary. What drove me nuts about Jon Gruden was that every coach “does an excellent job” and every player is “outstanding”. That is simply not the case and I don’t want to hear that nonsense anymore.
Let me pull out a FANTASY SCENARIO out of a hat. The sequence of events goes like this:
- The Pats win the Super Bowl 10 days from now.
- Bill Belichick steps to the podium to say that his team was a great group of men and that he was proud to be part of their accomplishment. He ends by saying that he is retiring from NFL coaching – – AND – –
- He is taking the job as the color analyst for MNF.
What football fan would want to miss his first telecast? What fan would not want to hear his response to the first dumb question posed by the play-by-play guy? What fan would not want to hear his follow up question to a coach or player who did not answer his original question? It is not going to happen – – but I think it would be fun if it did.
Finally, since I ended on a purely fantastic note, consider this sort of fancy from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“The London Daily Mail says a jet-powered mobility scooter was successfully tested, boasting a top speed of 70 miles-per-hour.
“So if NASCAR was ever thinking about starting a senior circuit.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………