Peyton Manning being chased by ESPN to replace Jason Witten on Monday Night Football
1. The dream of finding the Next Tony Romo continues for ESPN. The Hollywood Reporter reports that network President Jimmy Pitaro and content chief Connor Schell made a trek from Bristol to Denver on March 11 to meet with Peyton Manning about the Monday Night Football analyst gig (which is hardly shocking news) that opened up after Jason Witten returned to the Cowboys.
Jim Miller stated on the SI Media Podcast two weeks ago that ESPN would stick with play-by-pay man Joe Tessitore and analyst Booger McFarland as the team for the 2019 season -- unless it could convince Manning to join the team.
Manning has been reluctant to take an analyst job, but as long as Romo dominates in his role for CBS, networks, especially ESPN, will always hold out hope that they can lure him to the booth, especially after the debacle of last season. The future Hall of Fame quaterback will demand a major salary. What he would get paid would not even begin to justify the minimal ratings impact he may have.
This hire would be all about the buzz for ESPN. They need to clean up the mess from last year with the booth's bad chemistry, Witten's various blunders and Booger's ridiculous crane. On top of that, the network is yearning for some of that buzz Romo has given CBS.
The problem for ESPN is that Romo's success may give Manning even more pause about calling NFL games. Does Peyton want to be compared to Rom each and every week? Does Peyton want to go down the path Witten did, with every word he said getting analzyed and critiqued to death?
On the plus side, Manning would be a ton of money as ESPN's lead analyst and most fans would automatically say he's improvement over Witten no matter how he performed.
Either way, expect ESPN to be relentless in their chase of Peyton.
2. Best story of the day: Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana smashed a TV with a bat because his teammates were playing too much Fortnite -- which dominates clubhouses throughout Major League Baseball.
Carlos Santana was so livid that his Phillies teammates played Fortnite during games in 2018 that he grabbed a bat and smashed a TV. With an overhauled team that includes Bryce Harper, what have the Phillies done to address their clubhouse? Story at ESPN: https://t.co/vXFgetp5Of pic.twitter.com/tou1coHToL— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) March 18, 2019
3. Former Browns offensive line stalwart, Joe Thomas, has completely transformed himself since retiring after the 2017 season.
Here's how Joe did it, according to Joe:
4. Does Tom Brady really need to be doing this?
Like, you're the best quarterback of all time and you and your wife have more money than you'll ever spend. What's the point in charging people these prices (unless it's a charity thing)? It just looks so seedy and greedy.
5. This was just a beautiful basketball move by the Nets' De'Angelo Russell last night.
6. The first portion of the latest Sports Illustrated Media Podcast is a sports media chat with New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand. We got into a heated argument about FOX's new college football pregame show and Urban Meyer. Other topics discussed: Stephen A. Smith's various blunders, CBS/Turner announcers for the NCAA Tournament Show and the change to the Selection Show, Turner's plan to phase out Marv Albert on NBA coverage and much more.
At the 37-minute mark of the podcast, WWE superstar Roman Reigns joins the show to talk about his return to the WWE after battling leukemia, what he did during his time away from the ring, how he plans on changing his character, working with The Rock on a new movie and more.
7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: Sometimes on a Monday, you just need a little Ric Flair.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustarted Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina. You can also follow on Twitter and Instagram.
IN CLOSING: After Turner expanded the Selection Show to two hours last year and announced teams alphabetically before revealing the brackets, which resulted in major backlash from fans, CBS went back to a one-hour show this year in which it revealed the brackets right away. The result was the Selection Show getting its highest rating in five years. Sports networks should listen to fans a little more often.