ESPN is moving forward with a new Monday Night Football team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, though it's clear this was far from the network's first choice. For one, ESPN still hasn't formally announced the team nearly two weeks after the news broke.
More importantly, the Worldwide Leader chased a who's who of big names to fill its most important jobs: Tony Romo. Peyton Manning. Drew Brees. Al Michaels. And one more we didn't know about.
The New York Post's Andrew Marchand reported Wednesday that ESPN pitched Sean McVay on the idea of leaving his Sunday job for Monday Night.
ESPN executives think McVay could be a standout in the booth, somewhat like Jon Gruden. McVay is just 34, has already been to a Super Bowl and is under contract, but a conversation was had.
It's clear the conversation never got serious, but it's still a smart idea by ESPN.
McVay has spoken before about burnout in leading an NFL team.
“That’s something that I do need to be aware of because if you’re not careful — I just know the way that I’m going at it, you’re like, realistically, this isn’t the right way to do it, but you’re such a grinder and it’s kind of being able to step back, being still is going to be a key thing," McVay said earlier this year. "And I am confident that we’ll be able to achieve a better balance and will lead to more sustainability moving forward."
McVay is engaged, so perhaps starting a family will force his eyes away from game tape and provide a semblance of balance. Or perhaps it'll make him even more motivated to work less-insane hours.
“[W]hat I’ve really seen from a lot of my close friends, once you get into that point where, hey, I’m gonna get married next year, obviously want to be able to have kids,” McVay said. “That perspective of, all right, now you’ve got a real reason to live when you’ve got a family, you’ve got something else. I think that balance and that appreciation for those things where it’s not just all football will help toward a goal of just being able to sustain and be healthier overall.”
And when you consider that ESPN can offer even more money -- the network reportedly threw $140 million at Romo -- it's clear why they would at least throw the idea at McVay. The Rams coach has shown he can articulate complex football ideas into bite-sized chunks for the common fan, and he's got a savant-like mind for the game.
Romo's move to CBS, and his success in that job, changed the paradigm for how networks will look to fill their A-list jobs, and the money CBS paid Romo to keep him away from ESPN will change the way players and coaches view those jobs. At the same time, the Raiders re-hired Jon Gruden straight from the TV booth, and the 49ers hired John Lynch as their GM straight from the TV booth.
Taking a TV job doesn't end a coach or executive's chances at jumping back into the game. If anything, it enhances them.
More money, better in-season hours, a true off-season and the opportunity to stay connected to the game? Who in their right mind wouldn't at least stop and think about it?
McVay didn't take ESPN's offer this time around, but it may be just a matter of time before an active NFL head coach leaves his job for a TV gig.