Roundtable: Who replaces Witten in the MNF booth?


FILE – In this Nov. 5, 2018, file photo, former NFL player Jason Witten and broadcaster is recognized by the Dallas Cowboys before the first half of an NFL football game between the Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans in Arlington, Texas. Witten is coming out of retirement and rejoining the Cowboys after one season as a television analyst. The Cowboys announced Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, that the 11-time Pro Bowl tight end had agreed to a one-year contract. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)

It turns out, Jason Witten would rather play for a mediocre football team than be a mediocre TV analyst. In a stunning move on Thursday, the tight end announced that he’s coming out of retirement to once again play for the Cowboys this season. His departure leaves a void in ESPN’s Monday Night Football (MNF) booth, and speculation has already begun on who will fill the role. In the weekly Daily Campus Sports roundtable, writers make their predictions on whose voice you’ll be hearing (or muting) on Monday nights in the fall.

Neil Simmons, Campus Correspondent

As much as I would love to see Pat McAfee in the booth in primetime, I don’t think he’s totally fit for the job. Peyton Manning makes a lot of sense as the replacement, but apparently he’s not jumping into any broadcast booth until his brother retires. So I’m gonna say that Matt Hasselbeck is gonna take over the MNF gig. It makes sense since he already works for ESPN and has a personality that is arguably just as bland as Witten’s, so it’ll be like nothing has changed at all!

Matt Barresi, Staff Writer

I do not know who will replace Jason Witten in the booth, but I do know that if anyone, it will be someone internal. Peyton Manning is the home run swing, and I would give outside chances to Greg Olsen or Kurt Warner who have proven to be articulate. However, last year was such a debacle, as is Witten leaving, and ESPN wants to lay low right now. I have been impressed with Dan Orlovsky’s commentary, and they clearly like him in Bristol as they showcase him across their programming, but he lacks panache. Randy Moss has panache, but I think his charisma works better in the studio. Therefore my pick is Louis Riddick, who in the past has been clear about wanting the job, is incredibly insightful and would thrive in my opinion.

Sean Janos, Staff Writer

I see a lot of suggestions of quarterbacks who were intelligent students of the game of football, such as Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck. Perhaps the idea is to get people who understand the game and can predict the play before it happens, like Tony Romo did last season on CBS. On the contrary, I think it’s time we get someone who can just let the game breathe. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Jay Cutler. (Read these next four words in a Cris Collinsworth voice) Now here’s a guy who really “isn’t looking to do a lot of work right now,” according to Cutler himself on his wife’s reality TV show, “Very Cavallari.” He also asked his wife for an allowance on last week’s episode. Perhaps moving into ESPN’s broadcast booth to earn a paycheck while sitting there chiming in every now and again while Joe Tessitore handles the play-by-play is exactly what Smokin’ Jay (and America) needs.

Jorge Eckardt, Staff Writer

It has to be Pat McAfee in the booth next season. Not only does he have all of the football knowledge and expertise needed to provide great color commentary, but he is one of the most entertaining people to listen to in sports media today. He has some experience in the role, as he was the color commentator for a game between Baylor and Texas Tech and the Week 17 Packers-Lions game, and did a great job. He also has a contract with the WWE to be one of their media personalities after a few quest stints, much like he had with college football and the NFL. If ESPN wants to make a splash and go with the fan-favorite, they should go with McAfee.

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