Analysis: Replacing Jason Witten with Pat McAfee on ‘Monday Night Football’ is right move
Let’s hope the “Monday Night Football” decision makers learned a lesson from the Jason Witten fiasco.
Last week it was announced that Witten was going to leave the broadcast booth to go back to the Dallas Cowboys.
I have to admit, as much as Witten struggled with the job, I didn’t see that ending coming.
Witten was hired because he was a recently retired Dallas Cowboy with a recognizable name and a friendly face.
There was an assumption that he’d have Tony Romo pixie dust on him since he was Romo’s pal. Romo is such a natural at the same gig on CBS — with seemingly flawless future-telling powers. The thought was that Witten, with no experience just like his quarterback buddy, would be a hit.
That didn’t happen. He was awful. Unlike Romo, Witten was a better player than a broadcaster.
The “MNF” executives need to grasp that no one watches the games based on the name recognition of the broadcasters. They keep trying to market that idea, and it keeps failing.
Just get color analysts who are good at their jobs. The game will sell itself on a week-to-week basis, or it won’t.
As good as Romo is, no one runs to the television just because Romo is on the call.
If it’s Jaguars vs. Cardinals, no one will care if Romo correctly guesses every play in advance.
But who am I kidding? We all know they’ll try to inject personality and name-generated buzz into the broadcast. So let’s try to come up with a happy medium.
It’s Plum product Pat McAfee.
The former Colts punter is lobbying to be the next color analyst on “MNF.”
That sounds insane. But it isn’t. Who cares that he was “just a punter?” That won’t matter if the broadcast team sets the stage properly.
“MNF” has constantly tried to strike a balance between humor and analysis. It has frequently searched for sound, polished, X-&-O delivery blended with TV entertainment and ratings buzz.
Remember the attempts at working in Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser over the years?
McAfee can do that but via the role of a former player. In his post-punting career, McAfee has done everything from Sirius-XM radio on “Barstool Power 85,” to podcasts, to stand-up comedy, to pro wrestling.
McAfee’s quirky personality, online following and I-don’t-give-a-damn approach would provide the energy and social media zip that the broadcast is looking to add.
Like it or not, there is something to that whole “Barstool” persona that works in modern media.
Anthony “Booger” McFarland was supposed to be that entertainment-relief component in last year’s “MNF” trio with Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten. But the fact is, his sideline “Booger Mobile” was more entertaining than he was.
That’s not to say “Booger” was bad. He wasn’t. For the most part, I liked him. And I have no idea why it was vital that he acted as a second analyst on the sideline instead of having a three-person booth. Let Lisa Salters handle the sideline duties herself. She’s fine in that capacity.
However, I’d suggest he could bring his same level of personality in the lead-analyst role and let McAfee be a third guy in the booth.
McAfee could drop bombs, goof around and be the eccentric voice of the NFL’s “bro” fan base.
But instead of it coming off as “a funny guy trying to be an analyst,” it’d be an analyst who was funny.