Odds on Who ESPN Hires for Monday Night Football Booth

With less than four months until the start of the 2020 NFL season, ESPN is still searching for who will man the broadcast booth of their Monday Night Football games.

Last month, ESPN gave Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland the boot, which made football fans around the country happy that they no longer have to listen to Booger’s ramblings. McFarland might go down as the most hated MNF commentator of all-time.

However, the global sports network didn’t have a backup plan as to who would replace the duo. Instead, they had a wish list of big names to try and hire. First, ESPN went all-in on signing Tony Romo, but the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback re-signed with CBS for an absurd amount of money.

Next, they turned their attention to Peyton Manning, but for unknown reasons that didn’t work out either. Their third choice was Drew Brees, but the QB decided to stave off retirement for at least another season as he re-upped with the New Orleans Saints.

It was also rumored that ESPN aggressively pursued Al Michaels who’s calling the Sunday Night Football games for NBC. Michaels used to be a longtime MNF analyst from 1986 to 2005.

After losing out on the marquee names above, ESPN is now reportedly looking at the talent already within their broadcasting ranks. With than in mind, football betting sites are listing odds on who ESPN will go with for their MNF booth. Let’s take a look at the “X’s and O’s” of these props and make a few predictions.

Will ESPN Go With a 3-Man Booth for MNF?

  • No (-300)
  • Yes (+200)

Monday Night Football’s first season was in 1970 and it featured a three-man booth of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith. The next year, Jackson was replaced with Frank Gifford. From 1970 until 1986 when it was just Al Michaels and Frank Gifford, MNF had a three man booth.

In 1987, Dan Dierdorf joined Gifford and Michaels to form one of the most popular trios in sports broadcasting history. They lasted a decade before changes were made.

It wasn’t until 1999 for a season and then in 2002 that MNF reduced the number down to a two-man booth with Al Michaels and the legendary John Madden. In 2006, ESPN took over MNF games and went back to a three-man booth until 2012 when it went to the duo of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden.

In 2018, after Gruden returned to coach the Oakland Raiders, ESPN went with a three man booth for the season. But, Jason Witten left the booth and returned to play for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 which left us with the unpopular Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore.

As you can see, the majority of MNF’s broadcasting history has had a three-man booth. I believe ESPN should return to this format in 2020 with a trio of talented NFL analysts. With new faces in the booth, having three analysts will take pressure off of them while ensuring plenty of analysis and commentary.

I’m taking the “yes” option that ESPN goes with a three-man booth this year. I like the value with this one.

Will ESPN Go With a 3-Man Booth for MNF? Yes (+200)

Who Will Be the Play-By-Play Man?

Right now, online betting sites are only listing odds for color commentators and not play-by-play analysts. Currently, former SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy is the popular choice to replace Joe Tessitore. Levy is a longtime ESPN employee (since 1993) and has been calling College Football games for the network.


Both Tessitore and the man he replaced in Sean McDonough have risen through the College Football ranks to earn a shot on Monday Night Football. So, Levy could follow in their footsteps.

When it comes to College Football play-by-play men, ABC and ESPN’s top man is Chris Fowler. He certainly has the chops and the name recognition to lead this booth. However, I just don’t see ESPN deciding to break up or lose their top College Football broadcast team to improve MNF’s booth.

One more name being floated around is Dave Pasch who’s covered numerous sports for the last two decades and has been the Arizona Cardinals’ voice for the last 18 years.

I think Steve Levy will be the choice for play-by-play duties. He even handled one of MNF’s games last year with Brian Griese and Louis Riddick alongside him. Levy also called XFL games and did a good job keeping viewers engaged with new players and new concepts.

With Levy as the leading choice, we can now turn our attention towards who could join Steve in the MNF booth.

Who Will be the MNF Color Commentator in 2020?

  • Brian Griese (+300)
  • Dan Orlovsky (+500)
  • Louis Riddick (+500)
  • Matt Hasselbeck (+500)
  • Kurt Warner (+650)
  • Kirk Herbstreit (+700)
  • Pat McAfee (+700)
  • Jay Cutler (+1000)
  • Nate Burleson (+1000)
  • Bill Barnwell (+2000)
  • Eli Manning (+4000)
  • Colin Kaepernick (+5000)
  • Antonio Brown (+10000)

There’s absolutely no way that any TV network will hire Antonio Brown as a commentator. He has too many legal issues to even play for a football team, let alone be the face of a broadcast team.

Additionally, I don’t see Kaepernick getting a shot as of yet. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaepernick ends up as an analyst somewhere. Also, we’ve already ruled out Peyton Manning who has reportedly shot down the idea of joining the MNF broadcast.

I also don’t see Bill Barnwell or Jay Cutler being added to the booth. Their personalities don’t really bring life to the broadcasts or excite fans to hear what they have to say.

As mentioned above, if Chris Fowler doesn’t join the MNF team then there’s no way that Kirk Herbstreit joins. I can’t see ESPN breaking up their best College Football duo just to fix their MNF problem. Either they take them both or neither go. And as of now, I just don’t see the duo going to MNF.

Now that we’ve gotten those options out of the way, we can look at the candidates that are the likeliest to join the MNF booth:

Brian Griese (+300)

Brian Griese is a former NFL quarterback who played from 1998 to 2008. He’s been with ESPN since 2009 calling College Football games and teams up with Steve Levy in the broadcast booth along with Todd McShay.

Griese has been calling preseason games for the Denver Broncos, who he played with, for the last two years and is a second generation football star as his dad Bog Griese is in the Hall of Fame.


Dan Orlovsky (+500)

Dan Orlovsky is a former NFL QB who has quickly risen up the ranks with ESPN since signing with the company in 2018. He’s a College Football analyst who does regular appearances on NFL studio shows and various morning programming like GetUp!.

Orlovsky has showed a pension for breaking down the game of football in a way that’s simple for fans to understand. He also has an appealing personality that’s endeared him to higher-ups in the company. But, some critics question whether or not Orlovsky has enough tenure for an opportunity like this.

Louis Riddick (+500)

Louis Riddick played in the NFL from 1991 to 1998 as a safety. Once his playing days were over, he became a scout and director of pro personnel until he transitioned into an analyst for ESPN in 2013.

Since then, Riddick has become a prominent figure with football coverage for ESPN as he appears on Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and the daily football show NFL Live.

Riddick’s also a prominent figure for ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage. As mentioned above, he did a MNF game for ESPN last year with Levy and Griese. He was in the running for the full time job in 2019, but was beaten out by Booger McFarland. A move that still has many fans scratching their heads.

Matt Hasselbeck (+500)

Former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselback played in the league from 1999 to 2015. He led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl appearance and went to the Playoffs six times. In 2016, Matt announced that he was joining his brother Tim at ESPN to cover the NFL.

The Hasselback brothers have done fairly well in their post-playing days as they both bring knowledge and a personable approach. With that said, I just don’t see Matt beating out other options on this list. He’s done well with College Football games, but I believe he’s better as a studio analyst than a in-game commentator.

Kurt Warner (+650)

Kurt Warner is one of my all-time favorite football players. I love his rise to NFL stardom, subsequent fall, and resurrection. The Hall of Fame QB is also a former NFL and Super Bowl MVP who led two different teams to the Super Bowl (Rams and Cardinals).

Warner successfully transitioned from the field to television as he became an analyst for some of NFL Network’s top programming. Additionally, he’s spent the last few years as a radio commentator for Westwood One’s MNF coverage.

Warner has also appeared as a TV commentator for various NFL games including on ESPN in the past. He has the knowledge, the commentary experience, and the name recognition to be successful should ESPN choose him.

Pat McAfee (+700)

By time it’s all said and done, Pat McAfee might end up as the most famous punter of all-time. The former NFL All-Pro has become a very popular on-air personality for social media and ESPN. He’s also done some commentary for the XFL and the WWE.

McAfee has made regular appearances with ESPN for various NFL and NCAAF programming as a studio analyst and a commentator for games. He also auditioned for MNF last year, but didn’t make the final cut as ESPN decided to just go with Tessitore and McFarland.

McAfee has the personality to win over fans and make broadcasts more entertaining. He would certainly add entertainment value to the MNF booth in a football manner, not like the failed experiment with Dennis Miller.

Nate Burleson (+1000)

Former NFL receiver Nate Burleson has had a nice transition from the field to becoming a successful TV personality. Burleson, already appears on The NFL Today for CBS and various programming on the NFL Network including as a co-host of Good Morning Football.

Burleson has shown a nice blend of personality and football intelligence that has won him over with two networks already. I have no doubt that ESPN would be interested in him as well. With that said, Burleson is under contract with CBS and I doubt ESPN will be able to pry him away.


Who Will Join the MNF Booth as Color Commentator?

As mentioned above, I believe that ESPN will go with a three-man booth for MNF this season. With that said, I believe Louis Riddick is a lock to make the booth. He should’ve been in the booth last year and I see absolutely no reason why he doesn’t end up as one of the three members this year.

Personally, I would love if Kurt Warner ended up being a part of this three-man team. However, I see ESPN going with Brian Griese instead. It’s not that Griese is a bad choice, he’s a solid commentator, it’s just I’m a Warner fan.

It makes a lot of sense to keep Scott Levy and Brian Griese together as a team since they do so well together already. Additionally, Louis Riddick fits with them as he can provide a personnel and front office perspective to the broadcasts.

This trio did a solid job last year covering a MNF game and I believe they could do really well this season if ESPN gives them a chance. They certainly would be a step up from Tessitore, McFarland and Witten.

ESPN really needs a strong broadcast team after two years of bumbling, babbling broadcasts. Levy, Griese and Riddick would get the job done. Of the three, I definitely believe that Riddick lands in the MNF booth.

Who Will Join the MNF Booth as Color Commentator?

Brian Griese (+300)

Louis Riddick (+500)

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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