For years, networks have been doing their best to lock down multi-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning for their primetime NFL games.
Specifically, ESPN has been trying its hardest to bring Manning in to become the network’s own version of CBS analyst Tony Romo, even attempting to pull off a trade with NBC to pair Manning with the legendary Al Michaels.
After a long pursuit, ESPN and Manning finally put pen to paper on a deal that will see the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback on the mic for Monday Night Football games in 2021. Sort of.
In an announcement on July 19, 2021, ESPN’s public relations team confirmed that Manning and his brother Eli would headline an “alternate MNF telecast,” called the “Monday Night Football MegaCast.”
According to the announcement, the “MegaCast” will air on ESPN2, with “potential distribution across Disney properties including ESPN+,” and will feature the Manning brothers from a remote setting.
The pair will be on air for 10 games throughout each NFL season in 2021, 2022, and 2023, complimenting the main telecast that fans will be able to watch on ESPN or ABC throughout the year.
Currently, the main Monday Night Football broadcast team consists of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick, with Lisa Salters reporting on the sidelines.
While the partnership between the Manning family and ESPN doesn’t immediately feature Peyton Manning in a prominent analyst position on the main Monday Night Football broadcast, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the future Hall of Famer in the booth a few years down the line.
The Monday Night Football broadcast team has fluctuated frequently throughout the last decade, whether it included the likes of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden, a short stint with Sean McDonough, or the run that featured Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland.
The network appears to be opting for some stability after the first year with Levy, Griese, and Riddick on the call, potentially because they weren’t able to provide Manning with a partner that piques his interest.
There’s no telling what the future may hold in the world of sports broadcasting, as NBC prepares for its next steps following Michaels’ eventual departure from the Sunday Night Football booth.
If ESPN can somehow lure Michaels after his contract with NBC ends following the 2021-2022 season, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Peyton Manning transition to the main Monday Night Football broadcast, with Eli Manning taking over the prominent spot on the “MegaCast.”
For now, Peyton Manning will get to test the waters as it relates to “calling” Monday Night Football games, and will have the opportunity to build up reps before he potentially moves his way into more of an analyst role.