ESPN appears to have made a long-term commitment to its Monday Night Football broadcast team, with the three announcers expected to return next season, despite criticism, reports The Athletic's Lindsay Jones.
On the team of Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore, Jones wrote, "Like it or not NFL fans, you should expect to see and hear this trio next season."
Sideline reporter Lisa Salters, who was the only holdover form the former MNF broadcasting crew, is also slated to return.
"I think it’s a long-term plan," Witten told Jones. "I think a lot of people always assumed that I would get into coaching or management and all that kind of stuff at some point, and I don’t know that’s the case. I think that the biggest thing for me is you can’t allow noise to get in the way of what your goals are and what you want to do. I understand what the narrative is, and I’m committed to the long-game approach of being [an analyst]. If I could say anything, not in a sensitive or bitter way, it would just be, ‘Hey, look, if you really just studied it and looked at it and watched it, it has evolved.'"
The trio has gotten plenty of criticism this year. Witten, the former Cowboys tight end, made the jump from the league to the booth only this year, and has received the brunt of the blowback. Tessitore is a veteran college football play-by-play announcer, but has also received criticism. McFarland has mainly been criticized because of his "Booger Mobile" that puts him on the sidelines in a crane.
"What makes a three-man booth challenging is everybody’s gotta give up a little something. Right?" McFarland said. "Because normally you’d have one guy being the analyst and he’s got the ability to go at his own pace and do everything and break down everything, but when you’ve got two people somebody’s gotta give up a little something."
Witten said he was pleased with a disagreement he had with McFarland during last week's broadcast, saying it happened "organically."
ESPN’s vice president of production, Lee Fitting, told Jones he regretted not putting Witten in front of the camera more ahead of the season. According to The Athletic, he'll get more airtime this offseason.
There is one Monday Night Football games remaining — next week's Broncos-Raiders matchup.