Networks broadcast football for decades before Tony Romo traded his shoulder pads for a CBS blazer, but from the looks of it he has so re-written the rule book that now you can’t broadcast an NFL game without a fresh-off-the-field quarterback. Or at least that’s what ESPN seems to think.
After taking runs at Romo and Peyton Manning, now the New York Post reports that ESPN is willing to wait for Drew Brees to finish his playing career — he just signed a 2-year, $50 million deal to remain in New Orleans — and then present him with a $6.5 million-per-year offer to join its Monday Night Football booth.
Brees has also received interest from NBC and Fox, according to the Post.
The $6.5 million figure is not in Romo’s neighborhood, but it’s still top-of-the-line money comparable to what the Worldwide Leader paid Jon Gruden before he left for the Raiders and to what Fox pays Troy Aikman right now.
Speaking of Gruden, ESPN has refused to take my advice to stop overthinking it and is mulling a booth swap, per the Post. The internal favorites to replace the team of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland — at the moment — appear to be Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky and Louis Riddick, though they are not the only candidates for a promotion.
ESPN is still considering bumping Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit from Saturday nights to Monday, according to the paper.
Such a move would carry double-sided risk, as there’s no guarantee the Monday Night audience would accept the Fowler-and-Herbstreit team, and it would also cause ESPN to revamp its top college football team. It’s also an open question as to whether the pair would even want to kiss the college game goodbye in the first place.
Fowler and Herbstreit have worked together for close to 25 years now, first on College GameDay and now on the network’s top college game. Herbstreit has been ESPN’s lead college football game analyst since 2006, and Fowler ascended from the GameDay set to the booth in 2014.
Levy also calls college football for the network, running ESPN’s No. 3 or No. 4 (depending on the Saturday) crew alongside Brian Griese and Todd McShay. First known as a SportsCenter anchor and a hockey guy, Levy is a newcomer to college football play-by-play and a fast riser. His breakout moment came in this insane play from the 2014 Bahamas Bowl.
The only clear takeaway at this point is that ESPN wants to do something to shake up its Monday Night booth. Just what that change is remains to be seen, but it’s gonna be big.