The penultimate episode of Monday Night Football will air in a few hours. ESPN’s decision to overhaul the broadcast completely with Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland has yielded mixed reviews and the Booger Mobile has been the surprise big breakout hit.
Witten, who had no previous broadcasting experience before being hired, has been the most polarizing of the trio. He’s had some hiccups along the way and lately has tried to deflect with good ol’ self-deprecation.
As a former Dallas Cowboy, he had big shoes to fill and one of his shortcomings — fair or not — is that he’s no Tony Romo. But if one thinks he’s going to jump ship early or if he believes ESPN is going to have a short leash as it pertains to his position, think again.
Witten says he’ll be in it for the long haul.
“I think it’s a long-term plan,” Witten told Jones. “I think a lot of people always assumed that I would get into coaching or management and all that kind of stuff at some point, and I don’t know that’s the case. I think that the biggest thing for me is you can’t allow noise to get in the way of what your goals are and what you want to do. I understand what the narrative is, and I’m committed to the long-game approach of being [an analyst]. If I could say anything, not in a sensitive or bitter way, it would just be, ‘Hey, look, if you really just studied it and looked at it and watched it, it has evolved.’”
He is right. The show has gotten better in the past few weeks. Of course, it’s a problem that it had to get better in the first place.
My two cents is the amount of MNF and Witten criticism has far outpaced the public need. People largely watch football because football is on, and that experience is not made or broken based on the color commentator.
It will be interesting to monitor if print chatter surounding the new crew drops significantly in year two, or if the narrative is strong enough to endure another 12 months.