Sport Booger McFarland has a good lesson for his 'Monday Night Football' replacement: Be ready for scrutiny
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People like criticizing football announcers. Well, except Tony Romo.
There are very few football announcers everyone seems to like, and everyone watches “Monday Night Football.” That makes succeeding at that job nearly impossible.
ESPN is looking for a new booth for “MNF” and they tried pretty hard to find someone who would be mostly immune to harsh criticism. They couldn’t land Al Michaels from NBC. Peyton Manning passed. Romo stayed with CBS. ESPN is still looking for replacements for Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland.
Sports Pictures of the Week: May 4-10, 2020
Sports Pictures of the Week: May 4-10, 2020
The Monday night booth will always be one of the most scrutinized in sports broadcasting. McFarland knows that all too well.
Booger McFarland has advice for replacement
McFarland had a solid 2018 as the field-level announcer while Jason Witten was in the booth taking a lot of heat. Witten un-retired and went back to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Witten was under less of a spotlight playing for one of the NFL’s most popular teams than he was in the booth.
McFarland replaced Witten in the booth and didn’t have a great 2019. He was mocked often for slip-ups or pointing out the obvious. He had his good moments too but it didn’t matter much. People like to rip announcers.
Whoever takes over next will be the fourth “MNF” color commentator in four years. It’s not an easy job, and.
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“I think I learned a lot,” McFarland told The Athletic. “You’re always going to be scrutinized. A lot of people talk about wanting to be the man in the arena. When you are the man in the arena or when you a part of a group and your broadcast team is in the arena, you’ve got to be able to deal with everything.”
McFarland has a great outlook, saying the experience of doing “Monday Night Football” was the closest he has come to the feeling of running out of the tunnel as a player and he wouldn’t trade that. He knew he made some mistakes, but did a great job explaining to Deitsch the challenges of calling a game and how fast analysis must be made.
“Oftentimes you hear a football player say in Year 2, the game slows down,” McFarland said. “Well, I didn’t get an opportunity to get a second year to where the game could slow down even more.”
McFarland’s one moment he wants back
McFarland said he rewatched each game he did twice, and had only “three or four or five moments” that he really regretted. Social media critics would put the number higher, but it shows how much pressure there is in that position. A few mistakes is all it took for the tide to turn.
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One moment stood out for McFarland. In a Houston Texans-Buffalo Bills playoff game, McFarland suggested before third down that the Bills run and then spike the ball. That of course meant Buffalo would have been spiking the ball on fourth down. It was an easy moment to jump on him, and plenty did.
“It’s one of those things where I talked about the speed of the game in the broadcast booth,” McFarland told The Athletic. “I couldn’t see the down and distance mark and I was relying on the monitor and when I glanced at the monitor, the down and distance had not changed so I assumed that it was still in the previous down, which would have given me an opportunity to do what I wanted to do, run the draw on second down, spike it on third down, and make the field goal on fourth down.
“You live and you learn. If I had that one to do over, I’d wait a beat and the down and distance would change on the screen. I wish I had that one to do over. But I don’t. You live and you learn.”
ESPN will have to make a decision on its “Monday Night Football” booth over the next couple months. The network is clearly trying to find someone who can start off on the right foot and have a little goodwill before the inevitable griping. It might be impossible to find someone everyone will like.
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