These teams in the booth made the games they were covering even better
ESPN has announced its new broadcasting team for "Monday Night Football" (MNF) for the 2020 NFL season. The network is replacing Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland with Steve Levy doing play-by-play and Brian Griese and Louis Riddick handling color commentary.
The move has received mostly positive praise, and if it goes well, the team could be one of the best in the program's history. However, replacing the ones on this list will be a tall order. Here are the five best broadcasting teams in MNF history.
5. Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith (1970)
ABC Sports producer Roone Arledge tried to hire Curt Gowdy and Vin Scully to do play-by-play. When both declined, he went with Jackson, who was already in-house. The trio worked, as MNF become appointment viewing in its first season and even survived Cosell being drunk on the air (He had an ear infection and had a little too much to drink at a promotional party before the game). The next season, Jackson went back to covering college football games and Frank Gifford was brought on for play-by-play.
4. Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Ron Jaworski (2009-11)
The two best broadcasters of the past 15 years who went into the both after their NFL careers are Tony Romo and Gruden. The latter's skill became immediately apparent in his first MNF broadcast, and his three seasons with Tirico and Jaworski so far have been the best of the ESPN era.
3. Al Michaels and John Madden (2002-05)
After struggling to find the right broadcasting fit for several seasons, ABC paired the best play-by-play man in Michaels with the arguably the greatest color commentator of all time in Madden. The move worked beautifully in MNF's final four seasons on ABC. When the game moved to ESPN, the two went to NBC to cover "Sunday Night Football."
2. Frank Gifford, Al Michaels, and Dan Dierdorf (1987-96)
MNF's longest-running broadcast team was likable, inoffensive, and insightful. In an era where sports networks push for the provocative, that is a rarity.
1. Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith (1971-73, '77-78)
The team, which had former New York Giants running back Frank Gifford doing play-by-play with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith and Howard Cosell doing color commentary, is what made MNF an institution. While these three didn't always get along, their banter was often more entertaining than what was taking place on the field.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.
(Top photo courtesy of ESPN Press Room)