One of the more unique ideas ESPN has put on television in recent years was creating the position of field-level analyst for Anthony “Booger” McFarland, then hoisting him in a crane-like apparatus that provided him a unique vantage point to provide his insight.
Unfortunately, the Booger Mobile is no more. But at least McFarland is hanging around for another season.
ESPN announced the tweaked version of its Monday Night Football broadcast crew, which still features Joe Tessitore as its play-by-play voice. McFarland is leaving the field for the booth to join Tessitore as his analyst. But unlike last year when Jason Witten provided the player-turned-broadcaster perspective as Tessitore’s top analyst, there won’t be a second voice chiming in with perspective. Witten un-retired early in the offseason and returned to his familiar role as Dallas Cowboys tight end. That leaves just “Tess” and Booger” in the booth, Lisa Salters as the chief sideline analyst, and the millions watching at home. Perhaps the return to a two-man team in the booth will make for a cleaner broadcast throughout the season.
This isn’t to say a three-person booth couldn’t have worked for ESPN and MNF, but finding the right voice has its challenges. And even if a candidate checked all the right boxes, getting that person to sign on and commit isn’t easy. Peyton Manning was believed to be a candidate, but reportedly turned down the opportunity to do the gig.
The Bears were 3-1 in prime-time night games in 2018 and are lined up to play seven games in front of a national audience in 2019. But only one of those games is slated for Monday Night Football. The only scheduled appearance for the Bears on MNF will be in Week 3 when Matt Nagy’s gang will take their talents to our nation’s capital for a prime-time showdown against Washington.