Fox and ESPN might be competing for the same analyst, attempting to court Peyton Manning to fill the Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football openings, but the networks have their sights set on different play-by-play announcers.
According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, Fox is interested in Mike Tirico for their new Thursday Night Football broadcast, while ESPN’s Louis Riddick stated he would like to be considered as the Monday Night Football play-by-play voice.
Tirico is currently under contract with NBC, but now that the network no longer owns the broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football, they have no NFL play-by-play opportunities available for the established announcer. If NBC will allow him to make the switch, Tirico himself might be more interested in joining Fox to continue calling NFL games. Marchand reported Manning would like to work with Tirico, stating the two developed a strong relationship during Tirico’s time at ESPN.
As ESPN attempts to lure Peyton Manning to the Monday Night Football booth, Fox could potentially use the former voice of Monday Night Football as a bargaining chip to bring Manning to Thursday Night Football.
Following Tirico’s departure from ESPN, Sean McDonough has held play-by-play responsibilities for Monday Night Football, but after losing analyst Jon Gruden, the network might choose to replace McDonough as well. According to Marchand, ESPN has considered internal candidates Joe Tessitore, Steve Levy, Dave Pasch and Bob Wischusen, but in Richard Deitsch’s SI Media Podcast this week, ESPN analyst, Louis Riddick, expressed interest in the job which is still held by McDonough.
“This is something that has been a goal of mine and ESPN is very well aware that I am very interested in it,” Riddick told Deitsch. “It is the pinnacle of broadcasting as far as I am concerned, the most iconic position in broadcasting. To be involved with Monday Night Football either as a play-by-play person or analyst is something I am hoping I can achieve.”
A former NFL safety, Riddick spent time as an NFL scout for the Redskins and Eagles before joining ESPN in 2013. With no play-by-play experience, Riddick shared his understanding of how to be a successful broadcaster.
“I have no reservations about my ability to call a game live, to do it quickly and concisely, to not step on the toes of the person who is handling the play-by-play, to working a telestrator, to working an All-22 film video that you would have at your disposal in the booth, to giving quick anecdotes that would keep people informed, to understanding the rules of the game, to understanding the flow of the game,” Riddick told Deitsch. “That is me. That is who I am. You just have not seen that because I have not had that platform yet. I do not say this as someone who is trying to be a salesman of myself. This business is not about what you did as a player. This business is about what you can do as far as analyzing the game of football and communicating it to other people so that they can understand it.”