ESPN debuted a new-look Monday Night Football lineup in September 2020, but with all due respect to the trio of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick, Dan Le Batard wants to see the crew change yet again.
Le Batard walked away from ESPN earlier this year with his head held high, even as his relationship with the Worldwide Leader soured near the end. However, the popular podcaster has advice for his former employer that the network would be wise to consider.
Dan Le Batard believes ESPN should add Mina Kimes to its ‘Monday Night Football’ lineup
In Dan Le Batard’s ideal world, he wants to hear Mina Kimes when he turns on a Monday Night Football game going forward.
Kimes, who is currently an NFL analyst at ESPN, recently jokingly asked Le Batard if Dallas Cowboys running back Rico Dowdle’s performance in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game “cemented his position” as the team’s third-string running back.
Le Batard, who tweeted he was at 17% battery after drinking tequila, provided a heartfelt endorsement in response.
“Yes. And I think they need to be smart and put you in the Monday Night Football booth because your analysis is better than anyone’s, and no one cares more about football or is better on football than you are.”Dan Le Batard
Le Batard later tweeted he doesn’t want to see Kimes as a sideline reporter on an alternate simulcast. He wants her in the booth each week.
“Please drop me off a block away from school; you’re embarrassing me in front of the other kids,” Kimes tweeted back.
Kimes would be a massive change from the network’s recent ‘MNF’ strategies
Outside of the ill-fated BoogerMobile, ESPN has adhered to a traditional Monday Night Football broadcast structure over the last decade. A play-by-play voice worked with one or two analysts with NFL backgrounds, most of whom played in the league.
Since 2009, Mike Tirico, Joe Tessitore, Sean McDonough, and Levy have all served as MNF’s play-by-play voice. Jon Gruden had been a head coach before joining ESPN, and then returned to the sidelines with the Oakland Raiders in 2018. The other color commentators — Booger McFarland, Jason Witten, and the current duo of Griese and Riddick — all played in the NFL. However, ESPN has struggled finding consistent chemistry in the MNF booth since Tirico left for NBC in 2016.
Compare that to Kimes, who did not play in the NFL and has never worked for a team. ESPN has struggled with having non-former players or coaches succeed in non-hosting MNF roles that didn’t involve reporting, either in the studio or on the sidelines.
The days of Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser, neither of whom played in the league, serving as MNF analysts are over. It’s been nearly 40 years since the controversial and outspoken Howard Cosell took over a broadcast each Monday.
None of that is to say Kimes can’t do what Cosell and his gold jacket did throughout the 1970s. She’s risen through the ranks as an NFL analyst at ESPN despite having no true experience in the sport. Her enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge have earned her a sizable fanbase for a good reason.
Griese and Riddick will each return for the 2021 season. However, if Riddick leaves for a front-office job after the season, Kimes already makes sense as a potential replacement.
Should ESPN name Kimes the host of Peyton and Eli Manning’s alternate ‘MNF’ broadcast?
Le Batard isn’t wrong that Kimes’ talents might be wasted in a hosting role. However, that might also be her road to eventually working on Monday Night Football.
ESPN hadn’t announced who would host the alternate MNF broadcast featuring Peyton and Eli Manning as of publication. Adam Schefter, who works on Monday Night Countdown, has been linked to that hosting role.
If ESPN transitions Kimes into a hosting role, the network could also begin grooming her for a future in the MNF booth. She is also scheduled to earn broadcast reps as a TV analyst on Los Angeles Rams preseason games this summer.
It doesn’t sound unrealistic that Le Batard’s goal of hearing Kimes on Monday nights will eventually come to fruition. Whether or not he earns any type of finder’s fee, however, is to be determined.