The NFL regular season is just three months away and ESPN has yet to announce its Monday Night Football booth for 2020.
It's been over a month since unsurprising news broke that the widely-criticized duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland was being replaced. ESPN was apparently targeting huge deals for Tony Romo or Peyton Manning earlier this offseason, but it has since been reported that the network will make internal hires for its next MNF announcers.
Steve Levy is reportedly the favorite to replace Tessitore on play-by-play. That would be a strong move. However, the rumored leading candidates for color commentary – Louis Riddick, Brian Griese, and Dan Orlovsky – all leave something to be desired.
When it comes to replacing McFarland, the choice is obvious: ESPN needs to put Randy Moss in the Monday Night Football booth in 2020.
Everything about Moss makes him the perfect man to be the next lead analyst for MNF, provided he's willing to take the job. The biggest factor is that, like Manning, he's a legend of the game and an almost-universally beloved figure in the NFL world. That alone would create excitement when the announcement was made and would likely shield Moss from some of the endless criticism directed towards McFarland and Jason Witten over the past two years.
Moss would instantly make the broadcast more fun with his charming personality and southern twang. He's been one of the most entertaining people in the league since his playing days; there's a reason why NFL Films ranked Moss third on their list of the "Top 10 Mic'd Up Guys of All Time." The man whose catchphrase was "straight cash, homey" would infuse a certain level of energy and charisma into a booth that hasn't had much of either for quite some time.
Even though Moss has never done color commentary before, there's no reason to think he couldn't excel at it. Romo had never done the job when he started at CBS in 2017, and he quickly became one of the best in the business. Moss spent 15 years in the NFL and is not only one of the best wide receivers of all time, but he was also known as an extremely smart player. The Hall of Famer would have no trouble providing insightful analysis into what was happening on the field, and he could fill gaps in the broadcast with an endless assortment of stories from his career.
Plus, Moss has almost a decade of experience being on TV. He started with FOX Sports after his retirement in 2013 and joined ESPN in 2016, where he has spent the past three seasons as a studio analyst for MNF. Over the years, Moss has improved and become quite good in that role. Being a broadcaster is an entirely different beast, but even if it took some time for him to get used to the difficult responsibilities of color commentary, Moss's excitement and personality would more than cover up for that.
That was the argument made by Yahoo Sports writer Frank Schwab, who was the first to push for this idea a couple weeks ago.
We can learn from Romo’s success story that enthusiasm matters more than actual analysis. Mike Mayock, for one example, was very good at instantly breaking down Xs and Os during a game. And as a game commentator, he never resonated with the audience as a whole. Romo, who is also very good at breaking down Xs and Os, did.
Moss might not be immediately great at breaking down the game from the booth at warp speed (though he might be, it’s impossible to know). No matter what, he’d be entertaining and fun, and that matters.
Former Colts punter and current media personality Pat McAfee has also thrown his support behind the cause.
"He's one of the most entertaining people on TV already," McAfee said on his show. "Whenever Randy Moss gets going, Randy Moss is unbelievable. You're talking about a guy who has the respect of everybody. With his incredible personality, his resume, his ability to resonate with people, I think he would be amazing at it."
The caveat, as mentioned earlier, is that Moss would have to want the job. It's not an easy one, with all of the necessary meetings and preparation. But it's not like Moss isn't doing some of that already as a studio analyst. Moving to the booth is a logical next step for Moss in his TV career, and it's a job that he could have a lot of fun doing.
Make it happen, ESPN. Put Steve Levy and Randy Moss on Monday Night Football and watch the ratings soar.
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