It’s a busy time in Bristol.
On the same day ESPN announced Sean McDonough would replace Mike Tirico as the play-by-play man on the iconic “Monday Night Football” franchise, word spread of additional shakeups with the network’s NFL coverage.
Cris Carter and Ray Lewis are on their way out, according to The Big Lead, and Randy Moss will join the studio mix after a stint at Fox Sports. Carter, who joined ESPN in 2008, famously told NFL rookies at the 2014 rookie symposium they should get a “fall guy” for if and when they get in trouble. Lewis, part of an infamous homicide investigation during his playing days, came aboard in 2013.
Previously, ESPN said Mike Ditka would no longer be part of the “NFL Countdown” pregame show, and recently retired players Matt Hasselbeck and Charles Woodson would join the network.
McDonough, 53, will work alongside former coach Jon Gruden and sideline reporter Lisa Salters. An ESPNer since 2000, McDonough becomes the fifth person to do play-by-play in the 46-year history of “Monday Night Football,” joining broadcasting stalwarts Keith Jackson, Frank Gifford, Al Michaels and Tirico.
The son of longtime Boston Globe writer Will McDonough, he has worked NFL games on ESPN Radio in recent years, in addition to his college football and college basketball work on the network. Tirico left ESPN for a job at NBC after 10 years doing “Monday Night Football.”
“When it became apparent Mike would leave, Sean was at the top of our list,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president of programming and production. “Sean is uniquely prepared, given his family’s history with the NFL.”
Wildhack said the job wasn’t offered to anyone besides McDonough, who was thrilled with the opportunity.
“It really is a dream of a lifetime, especially growing up in my house,” McDonough said on a conference call. “Probably the most vivid memories of my childhood were watching ‘Monday Night Football’ with my brother and sister. This is an opportunity anybody in our business would just kill for.”
Tirico pivots to NBC, which features the 71-year-old Al Michaels as the play-by-play voice of its Sunday Night Football telecasts but adds five primetime Thursday games to its portfolio this fall. Perhaps more intriguingly, Tirico will cover this summer’s Olympics in Rio after he joins the network July 1, and becomes positioned as the heir apparent to Bob Costas.
“[The Olympics were] right at the top of the list of things that made it impossible to turn away from this opportunity,” Tirico said on a conference call, according to the Associated Press.