Quarterbacks have dominated the 2020 NFL free agency class. Tom Brady, of course, headed down to Tampa Bay; Philip River is trading in his Chargers jersey and joining the Colts. Even a retired quarterback, Tom Romo, got in on the action and signed a massive contract extension with CBS. Peyton Manning, however, isn’t going anywhere just yet.
Ever since he retired from professional football, the former quarterback has been tapped as a natural for the broadcast booth. Despite ESPN’s best efforts, though, Peyton Manning won’t be calling Monday Night Football games in 2020.
Peyton Manning seems like a perfect broadcaster
It goes without saying that playing football and analyzing the game on TV requires two incredibly different skillsets. Peyton Manning, however, seems to have the chops in both arenas.
On the field, Manning was an incredibly smart and meticulous player. As anyone who heard the quarterback at the line of scrimmage can confirm, the quarterback was adept at reading a defense and knowing how to counter their formation. During his time with CBS, Tony Romo has made a living explaining what happened—or should have happened—on a given play; it’s hard to imagine that Manning can’t break things down in a similar fashion.
It’s also worth noting, however, that Manning is quite comfortable in front of the camera. Whether he’s appearing on Saturday Night Live or hosting his own ESPN series, the former quarterback has already gotten plenty of experience speaking to an audience, rather than a huddle of his teammates. While that might seem like a minor detail, every bit of preparation helps when you’re stepping into a new role.
Don’t expect to see Peyton Manning on ESPN just yet, though
Last offseason, Peyton Manning reportedly passed on the chance to join ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast because he didn’t feel comfortable criticizing his brother on national TV. Eli has since retired, but Peyton still isn’t ready to head upstairs and step behind the microphone.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Manning recently declined another offer to join Monday Night Football. The logic behind his decision, it seems, stems from the grind of spending the season traveling the country.
“Sources say the overriding factor was whether Manning finally wanted to enter the broadcast booth and commit to the weekly schedule in the fall,” Marchand explained. “The answer remains no.”
What comes next for ESPN and Monday Night Football?
Based on their attempts to court Romo, Michaels, and Manning, it’s safe to assume that ESPN isn’t thrilled with their current broadcast team. So what does the future hold for Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, and Monday Night Football?
According to Marchand, it doesn’t seem like a dramatic change is immediately on the cards. While something could still happen this summer, “ESPN executives may choose to take a break from ‘Monday Night Football’ after plans to hire one of Romo, Manning, Drew Brees or Philip Rivers did not work out,” his column explained. Given the current state of the world, let alone the world of sports, the network probably has bigger fish to fry.
While the network has a variety of options, including promoting various internal candidates or waiting until next year and trying to poach another big name, one reality remains clear: Peyton Manning won’t be calling games for ESPN this year.