ESPN spent months searching high and low in its umpteenth attempt to reboot its Monday Night Football booth. They wanted Tony Romo. They wanted Peyton Manning. They wanted to trade for Al Michaels. They considered having Kirk Herbstreit pull double duty.
In the end, they ended up promoting the second string.
The crew of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick worked the tail end of MNF’s annual Week 1 double header, Denver vs. Oakland.
Now, according to reports from New York Post columnist Andrew Marchand and ESPN biographer Jim Miller, that team of Levy, Griese and Riddick will be MNF’s full-time crew for the 2020 season and (potentially) beyond.
I have a column just sent in on Monday Night Football.
Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick are expected to be the new team, sources confirmed. @JimMiller said he was hearing that. His ears were correct.
I'll tweet my take when it is edited.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) July 31, 2020
— james andrew miller (@JimMiller) July 31, 2020
Levy has been with the network since 1993. The 55-year-old worked primarily as a SportsCenter anchor and as one of the lead faces on the network’s hockey coverage. He just started calling football on a full-time basis in 2016, where he has worked alongside Griese and Todd McShay.
If and when the move becomes official, Levy will become the fourth straight MNF play-by-play man to get the call up from Saturday work. Mike Tirico went first when the package moved from ABC to ESPN in 2006 and has since been succeeded by Sean McDonough and Joe Tessitore. Tirico lasted 10 seasons before leaving for NBC; McDonough and Tessitore lasted just two. (Presumably, Tessitore will join McDonough in going back to Saturday work. He’s still ESPN’s top boxing announcer.)
The ESPN higher-ups have clearly been impressed with Levy’s work. Earlier this year, he was placed in front of ABC’s (short-lived) XFL coverage.
Griese, a former national champion quarterback at Michigan and the son of quarterback-turned-analyst Bob Griese, joined ESPN in 2009 after an 11-year career with the Broncos. He’s worked primarily in the college football, but dabbled in NFL duty with radio work for the Broncos and spot duty on ESPN’s NFL coverage.
Riddick made his name as a scout and personnel director for the Washington Football Team and the Eagles before grabbing a microphone in 2013. He’s appeared primarily through studio work, but ESPN has been grooming him for analyst duty, primarily in the aforementioned MNF double-header with Levy and Griese in 2019. He also pitched in analyst duty on various college games last fall.
Though this is undoubtedly a big day for Levy, Griese and Riddick, history suggests they shouldn’t start making long-term plans just yet. ESPN brass is clearly looking for a permanent solution for the network’s biggest asset, and it’s safe to assume they’ll keep looking until one of two things happens:
1. They finally convince Peyton to take their standing offer and/or pull A-list talent from another network.
2. Levy, Griese and Riddick are just so good that they force ESPN to stop looking.
Short of those two outcomes, it’s safe to assume we’ll be doing this again in 2022 or so.