When Jon Gruden, the former head coach of the Buccaneers and Tampa resident left his dream job as the lead analysts on ESPN Monday Football to become the head coach of the Raiders there was a national guessing game on who would take his place in the booth. We this morning ESPN made the announcement that they have a new team in place and that includes another former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Booger McFarland.
He will join new play-by-play voice Joe Tessitore, analyst Jason Witten reporter Lisa Salters. Tessitore and Witten will be in the booth, while McFarland will bring a new perspective to the games each week as the first field-level analyst for sports television’s signature series.
McFarland has been with ESPN since 2014 and served as one of the SEC Network’s first commentators. After excelling in the SEC Network studio, McFarland transitioned to the ESPN on ABC college football team as a studio analyst. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Get Up!, ESPN Radio and more.
“Our new Monday Night Football team shares a passion and respect for the game that will be evident to fans,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Senior Vice President, Event and Studio Production. “Joe brings an unrivaled excitement to each broadcast through his play-by-play style. Jason leaves the game with the respect of the entire league. His knowledge and insight will quickly make him one of the most respected analysts in football. Booger’s ability to share candid opinions and insightful observations has made him one of our best analysts. Together, with Lisa, our Emmy-nominated reporter, this team will deliver a fantastic broadcast. We are thrilled to introduce this new team to fans as we begin the latest chapter in MNF’s storied history.”
A first round pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1999 NFL Draft, McFarland played nine NFL seasons with the Bucs (1999-2006) and Indianapolis Colts (2005-06). He helped anchor Tampa’s menacing defense and was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams – SB XXXVII (Tampa) and XLI (Indianapolis). During his nearly decade-long career, McFarland played 109 games, amassing 188 tackles and 22.5 sacks.
McFarland on his new job: “As a football analyst, Monday Night Football is the pinnacle of what we do. It is a platform that has been held by some of the greats in our industry. I am both honored and humbled to be a part of it and look forward to bringing the Booger that everyone has grown to know during my years of covering college football to the NFL.”
Joining him on the MNF team is the recently retired Witten who comes to the booth with Steller NFL credentials. An 11-time Cowboys team captain, Witten is one of the most-respected players in the NFL for his character and community involvement. He was the recipient of the 2012 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in addition to being nominated for the award in 2007.
Witten: “Monday Night Football is part of the storied fabric of the NFL. Growing up it was a night I looked forward to every week. Having spent 15 years as a member the Dallas Cowboys, I am excited and proud to represent another iconic franchise and join the team at ESPN and MNF. I love the game of football, and look forward to sharing my thoughts and insight with the viewers around the world.”
The final member of the team is no stranger to the sidelines Lisa Salters will return for her seventh MNF season this fall. She will contribute to game telecasts and provide updates on the teams during ESPN studio shows on Mondays. A versatile and accomplished reporter with more than two decades of experience, Salters is a sideline reporter for two of ESPN’s biggest sports properties – the NFL and NBA games on ESPN and ABC. She is also a featured correspondent for the company’s award-winning E:60 newsmagazine.
Salters: “I covered Jason during his career with the Cowboys and I have the utmost respect for him. I look forward to working with him and getting to know Joe and Booger as we prepare for our first MNF season together.
Here is some irony for you the first regular season game the ESPN MNF crew will broadcast comes on Monday, September 10 when the Oakland Raiders host the Los Angeles Rams (10: 15 p.m. ET) – as former ESPN MNF analyst Gruden makes his return to the NFL sidelines – in the late game of ESPN’s season-opening doubleheader. This is the first time in the 13-year history of the week 1 doubleheader format that ESPN’s top crew will call the late game, following New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions at 7:10 p.m. (The ESPN team that will call Jets-Lions will be announced at a later date.)