Jeff Triplette retired from his role as an NFL referee at the end of last season. Now he has a new job as ESPN’s new rules analyst for its Monday Night Football telecasts. He replaces Gerry Austin, who left to join MNF teammate and new Raiders coach Jon Gruden in Oakland.
Cameron Filipe from Football Zebras reports that the hire was made at the behest of the NFL.
Nearly six months off his retirement, Jeff Triplette is slated to join ESPN as a rules analyst along with newcomers Joe Tessitore and Jason Witten in the Monday Night Football booth, according to officiating and network sources. Football Zebras has also learned that the NFL specifically steered ESPN to hire Triplette. He will be replacing former referee Gerald Austin, who has served on the MNF team since 2012.
Andre Bucholtz at Awful Announcing documented the backlash to the move on Twitter. Triplette has long been the subject of NFLfans’ ire. But Bucholtz believes the hiring was less about creating controversy and more of a goodwill gesture.
So that’s interesting, especially considering the tensions that have arisen between ESPN and the NFL over time. Of course, that relationship reportedly saw particular strain near the end of former ESPN president John Skipper’s tenure, and has reportedly gotten better under interim replacement George Bodenheimer and eventual full-time replacement Jimmy Pitaro. Even the playoff game that many thought would be moving to Fox is still with ESPN for now. Maybe agreeing to hire the particular former referee the NFL wanted is another way for ESPN to appease the league.