When the going gets tough, no one – and we mean no one — circles the wagons like … Booger McFarland. Just weeks after losing the most high-profile job of his career at ESPN, McFarland has continued his rally and will now hold down a seat next to Chris Berman each week during the NFL season.
Booger McFarland’s ‘MNF’ gig didn’t last long
Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden worked so well together from 2009-15 on ESPN’s Monday Night Football telecasts that replacing them was no easy task. Sean McDonough stepped into Tirico’s role the following two seasons, but Gruden’s return to coaching sent the network back to the starting blocks for the 2018 season.
The most recent lineup of Joe Tessitore and analyst Booger McFarland didn’t pan out last season. So, ESPN announced recently that it is returning to a three-man booth. Former SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy will handle play-by-play alongside analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick.
Tessitore will continue at ESPN as a boxing analyst and will undoubtedly settle into other roles as well. McFarland was quickly handed a studio analyst assignment on Saturday college football shows as a sign that the network still values him.
Booger McFarland has picked up two assignments this week
NFL teams made their roster decisions over the weekend to set the stage for the Week 1 games, but ESPN waited until the last minute to announce its final personnel moves.
The disclosures began this week with the cable sports network confirming the second half of a job switch. After revealing last week that Louis Riddick would be one of the analysts taking the place of Booger McFarland on Monday Night Football, ESPN said McFarland is getting Riddick’s previous studio role on Mondays before the game. McFarland will work alongside Randy Moss and host Suzy Kolber. Steve Young will contribute from the studio or the game site, Awful Announcing reported.
And now executives have revealed a change to ESPN’s popular NFL PrimeTime highlights show on Sundays. When the show hits the air on Week 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+, McFarland will be veteran host Chris Berman’s sidekick. McFarland will replace Tom Jackson, another veteran of the network. Awful Announcing reported.
In summary, then, McFarland last lost Monday Night Football, the best assignment of his second career – he was an NFL lineman with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts from 1999-2006 – but will be impossible for football fans to miss Saturday through Monday each weekend this fall.
‘NFL PrimeTime’ won’t be the same without Tom Jackson
Landing the seat on NFL PrimeTime means Booger McFarland will have some large shoes to fill because Tom Jackson has been synonymous with football on ESPN. However, Jackson made the decision this summer to step away from telecasts for now because of COVID-19 pandemic concerns.
Berman and Jackson had teamed up on NFL PrimeTime from 1987-2005, becoming the televised football version of comfort food for fans who knew to expect puns and humor from Berman while Jackson contributed concise insight and no-nonsense commentary. They were reunited last season when the network placed the show on ESPN+.
Jackson began his career as a fourth-round draft pick in 1973 by the Denver Broncos, for whom he started 177 games at linebacker before retiring after the 1986 season. He joined ESPN the following season and held down a variety of assignments until retiring in 2016.
He came back last fall to help give NFL Primetime a launch on ESPN+.