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Who Will Call MNF and TNF Games on FOX and ESPN?

Brandon Contes

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Fox and ESPN might be competing for the same analyst, attempting to court Peyton Manning to fill the Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football openings, but the networks have their sights set on different play-by-play announcers.

According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Fox is interested in Mike Tirico for their new Thursday Night Football broadcast, while ESPN’s Louis Riddick stated he would like to be considered as the Monday Night Football play-by-play voice.

Tirico is currently under contract with NBC, but now that the network no longer owns the broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football, they have no NFL play-by-play opportunities available for the established announcer. If NBC will allow him to make the switch, Tirico himself might be more interested in joining Fox to continue calling NFL games. Marchand reported Manning would like to work with Tirico, stating the two developed a strong relationship during Tirico’s time at ESPN.

As ESPN attempts to lure Peyton Manning to the Monday Night Football booth, Fox could potentially use the former voice of Monday Night Football as a bargaining chip to bring Manning to Thursday Night Football.

Following Tirico’s departure from ESPN, Sean McDonough has held play-by-play responsibilities for Monday Night Football, but after losing analyst Jon Gruden, the network might choose to replace McDonough as well. According to Marchand, ESPN has considered internal candidates Joe Tessitore, Steve Levy, Dave Pasch and Bob Wischusen, but in Richard Deitsch’s SI Media Podcast this week, ESPN analyst, Louis Riddick, expressed interest in the job which is still held by McDonough.

“This is something that has been a goal of mine and ESPN is very well aware that I am very interested in it,” Riddick told Deitsch. “It is the pinnacle of broadcasting as far as I am concerned, the most iconic position in broadcasting. To be involved with Monday Night Football either as a play-by-play person or analyst is something I am hoping I can achieve.”

A former NFL safety, Riddick spent time as an NFL scout for the Redskins and Eagles before joining ESPN in 2013. With no play-by-play experience, Riddick shared his understanding of how to be a successful broadcaster.

“I have no reservations about my ability to call a game live, to do it quickly and concisely, to not step on the toes of the person who is handling the play-by-play, to working a telestrator, to working an All-22 film video that you would have at your disposal in the booth, to giving quick anecdotes that would keep people informed, to understanding the rules of the game, to understanding the flow of the game,” Riddick told Deitsch. “That is me. That is who I am. You just have not seen that because I have not had that platform yet. I do not say this as someone who is trying to be a salesman of myself. This business is not about what you did as a player. This business is about what you can do as far as analyzing the game of football and communicating it to other people so that they can understand it.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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Sports TV News

Ryan Clark, Mad Dog Get Into Heated Argument on ‘First Take’

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

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Former Pittsburgh Steeler, and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark and recent Radio Hall of Fame inductee Chris “Mad Dog” Russo squared off on Monday’s edition of First Take, with a heated exchange taking place between the two.

After a discussion about Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas meandered into a discussion about whether Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never played another game, Clark said about Hall of Fame voters “they must be voting like you (Russo) vote for the Heisman, where you just vote on whoever the hell you want based off the fact that they play quarterback”.

Russo quickly took exception to the perceived slight.

“Ryan, hold on now,” Russo said, in a louder manner than normal. “You said something, now I’m going to comment. I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born.”

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

“You said something that wasn’t right,” Russo said.

“Lower your voice,” the former Steeler interrupted again.

“I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born,” Mad Dog reiterated, with a lower volume. “30 years.”

“I don’t care about that,” Clark rebutted.

“You’re saying I’m voting for the Heisman and saying I don’t deserve a vote. I’ve been voting for 30 years!”, Russo began to raise his voice again.

“I never said you don’t deserve a vote,” Clark replied before clarifying he disagrees with Russo’s sentiment about the college football award being only awarded to quarterbacks.

It’s not the first time Russo has clashed with First Take contributors. A discussion with J.J. Reddick went viral earlier this year after Reddick told Russo previous NBA players played with “plumbers and firefighters”.

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Sports TV News

Todd Frazier Joining ESPN Little League World Series Booth

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

Ricky Keeler

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When people talk about 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, some of the things that are usually mentioned on broadcasts usually is that he is from Toms River, New Jersey and that he played in the Little League World Series in 1998 (won the championship). Now, Frazier will have a bigger connection to the annual event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

As first reported by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati EnquirerFrazier will be in the TV booth (remotely) for ESPN for this year’s Little League World Series. He made his broadcast debut on Monday morning during one of the New England region semifinals between Maine and Massachusetts. 

Frazier told Nightengale that he wants to use this event to begin his second career in the broadcasting industry.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially for the Little League World Series since I’ve been a part of it. I know it and understand it really well. Kind of kickstart my second career here.” 

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

The Little League World Series begins on Wednesday, August 17 and ends on Sunday, August 28. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC.  

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