There was a time when calling NFL games on Monday Night Football was one of the most coveted spots in the sports broadcasting world. After years of declining relevance and ratings, the position has lost some of its luster. Monday Night Football used to stand out — it was the only game not played on Sunday.
Now the league has Thursday night games, Sunday night games, and the occasional late-season Saturday game. Plus, the announcing team has drawn its fair share of criticism over the past few years as well. As ESPN attempts to fix the issue, one unexpected but interesting candidate has emerged to potentially replace Booger McFarland: Pat McAfee. Here’s why he’s the right man for the job.
The Monday Night Football broadcast team situation
The past two seasons have not been great for Monday Night Football. In 2018, critics panned the three-man team of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, and McFarland. Witten unretired and returned to the Dallas Cowboys last season, but it did little to improve the broadcast. Tessitore and McFarland continued to receive poor reviews for their work.
ESPN reportedly pursued Tony Romo for its top football commentator spot on Monday Night Football this upcoming season. Sensing they were about to lose their new star, CBS re-signed Romo to a record-breaking deal that leaves ESPN back at the drawing board.
Now? It’s anyone’s guess what ESPN will do. The NY Post reported ESPN’s “dream team” includes Al Michaels and Peyton Manning. The problem is that NBC has shown no willingness to let Michaels out of his Sunday Night Football deal and Manning has expressed little interest in TV work.
With a lack of star power available, ESPN may turn McAfee, which would be a surprising — but solid — choice.
Pat McAfee career overview
At first glance, you may scratch your head when hearing about McAfee as a candidate for a prominent broadcasting position. After all, he was a punter. He was a very good punter, but a punter nonetheless. It’s one of the more nondescript positions on a football field. They rarely become analysts.
McAfee punted for the Colts for eight seasons, qualifying for two Pro Bowls. After suffering a rash of knee injuries throughout his career, McAfee stunned the Colts organization when he retired at the age of 29. Why leave so early? McAfee, who is about as charismatic an individual as any football player, struck a deal with Barstool Sports to produce content for them.
Why Pat McAfee is the perfect choice to replace Booger McFarland
There are multiple reasons why McAfee is the best choice to join the Monday Night Football team next season, including:
- He’s proven he can do solid work in the booth before. This season he served as a color commentator for ESPN’s Thursday night college football broadcasts.
- He’s entertaining and opinionated. McAfee has shown an ability to draw a significant audience with his work on Barstool before exiting in 2018.
- He can be analytical when the situation calls for it. Despite the comedic element of McAfee’s post-retirement career, he can still provide cogent breakdowns of the football world when needed. McAfee has experience as a player, and he’ll no doubt use that experience in the booth.
- JJ Watt has already endorsed him. When one of the NFL’s biggest stars says McAfee should have the job, it may be time for ESPN to listen.
The bottom line? Pat McAfee knows the game and he’s an engaging personality. While it’s important to have a knowledgeable football person in the booth, the NFL is entertainment. McAfee has the right combination of actual insight and a sense of humor.