I’m not one to normally say this, but bless the Dallas Cowboys. On Thursday they delivered us from evil, and by “evil” I mean Jason Witten’s broadcasting career. The All-Pro tight end is returning to the team for another season, leaving his seat at the Monday Night Football desk open.
Witten is like Michael Jordan going to baseball — an amazing athlete who tried another job, learned he was bad at it, and returned to his first one. Now ESPN will need to find a new host, and I have some ideas.
Nine people who should replace Jason Witten on Monday Night Football.
No. 1 — Dan Orlovsky
Take a spin around Orlovsky’s Twitter account and you’ll see that the 12-year quarterback is one of the sharpest football minds around. ESPN hired him in 2018 as an analyst predominantly working on college football, but he obviously has the chops to make it work.
Orlovsky is also totally down for the job.
No. 2 — Beth Mowins
Mowins became the first woman in MNF history to work as a broadcaster, and she’s been fantastic every opportunity she’s gotten to work the game. Witten was proof that players don’t always make the best announcers, even if Tony Romo was able to make the jump — so why not go back to the tried-and-true method of having someone on the announce team who didn’t play the game, but just knows A LOT about it.
No. 3 — Peyton Manning
If Peyton can be lured away from Nationwide ads he’d be the biggest name ESPN could get. Not only is he smart, but he’s funny — and we need more fun in the booth for the premiere game of the week.
No. 4 — Louis Riddick
Let’s be real: ESPN has whiffed on a lot of hires for their NFL analysis over the last decade, but with Riddick they hit a home run. He’s smart, funny and a boon to whatever show he’s on.
Riddick fits the bill is ESPN desperately wants a former player, but he also gets what the job is all about, telling Sports Illustrated last year:
“This business is not about what you did as a player. This business is about what you can do as far as analyzing the game of football and communicating it to other people so that they can understand it.”
No. 5 — Greg Olsen
The Panthers probably had mild heart palpitations upon hearing that Witten was leaving the booth. For the past eight years, Olsen has been the heart of the Panthers’ receiving game, but he is already being heavily courted by multiple networks after working a few games while being injured last year.
Ron Rivera: “Greg has told me he wants to play"https://t.co/LGsNyTIqF7— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) February 28, 2019
The Panthers are quick to say that Olsen wants to return to play in 2019, but hosting Monday Night Football might be too good to pass up.
No. 6 — Ken Jeong
OK, so hear me out: ABC tried the “comedian as sportscaster” gig with Dennis Miller and it was a disaster. It wasn’t that the idea was bad, but the execution. Miller wasn’t the right guy to pull it off.
Jeong, on the other hand, is a diehard sports fan, and while his primary love is basketball I could definitely see him doing great things on Monday Night Football. He understands sports on a level few comedians do, and his jokes play much better to a wide audience than Miller’s esoteric historical goofs.
No. 7 — Booger McFarland
McFarland is already inside the Monday Night Football ecosystem, working as a sideline analyst on the broadcast — but he’s been excellent in this role. McFarland ran rings around Witten on the show, to a level that was almost embarrassing.
Plus he has some serious support in his corner.
No. 8 — Rotating hosts.
At this point I’ve given you seven good names for who could fill the job. Who says we need to pick one? Think about it: The idea of having “chemistry” is only overrated if you want it to be a long-time thing. What if Monday Night Football modeled itself after Saturday Night Live and each week we had a different guest host?
Get a serious football mind if the game is going to be a technical barn-burner. If it’s one of those late-season snooze-fests you could have someone fun and goofy to give us a reason to watch. You turn Monday Night Football into appointment TV this way, and not establishing a long-term commitment means ESPN can get bigger names than would ever be possible.
No. 9 — Sobble
Who needs manufactured excitement? Joy is for the birds. Put in Sobble and bring the saddest Pokemon since Psyduck into a venue we can all appreciate.