Not even Tony Romo money was enough to lure Peyton Manning into ESPN’s premier broadcast booth.
The future Hall of Fame quarterback has turned down an offer from ESPN to work as the “Monday Night Football” color commentator, according to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.
This isn’t the first time Manning has turned down ESPN and other networks, but it is almost certainly the biggest offer he has declined.
ESPN was reportedly willing to give Peyton more than Tony Romo
No firm number has been reported from ESPN’s offer to Manning, but all indications point to the network offering big-time money to one of the most famous faces in football.
Marchand reports that Manning may have topped the record 10-year, $140 million deal that CBS gave to Romo at the end of his contract if he were to combine his Monday Night Football salary with his other shows on ESPN.
Manning also hosts ESPN+ shows “Peyton Places” and “Detail,” so ESPN was the natural destination if he decided to step into the color commentary role.
Front Office Sports also reported earlier this month that ESPN was preparing to offer Manning a salary somewhere in the range of $18 million to $20 million per year.
It’s not hard to see why Manning would command so much money. Few figures in football — if any — have ever offered a similar combination of name/face recognition, cerebral reputation and experience on television between his ESPN+ shows, “Saturday Night Live” guest hosting and advertising spots.
In just a few years, Romo has become the new face of CBS’ sports coverage while delivering memorable commentary. ESPN was likely hoping for something similar with Manning as it begins negotiations for a new television rights deal with the NFL.
However, it’s also not hard to see why Manning hasn’t landed in the booth yet. He already has plenty of money from his playing days, and is already getting plenty of television work thanks to his reputation. He might simply want to enjoy his retirement on his terms.
Manning has topped networks’ broadcasting wish lists since retiring in 2016 and so far has not budged.
Al Michaels was a ‘no’ for ESPN too
Manning turning down ESPN also means the network’s dream of pairing the former quarterback with play-by-play legend Al Michaels is 100 percent dead.
ESPN had been reported to be interested in pairing Michaels and Manning on “Monday Night Football,” but NBC — which has Michaels under contract for two more years — reportedly rejected a trade inquiry.
Does this mean more Booger McFarland on MNF?
With Manning reportedly out of the picture, the question on many fans’ minds will be if current “Monday Night Football” color commentator will return to the booth next season despite a much-maligned rookie year on the broadcast.
The answer is probably not. Even if Manning is out, the fact that the network was reportedly willing to break the bank for a new commentator indicates it was not happy with last year’s product. Manning was reportedly not the network’s only plan.
ESPN’s MNF contract runs out in 2021, a year before NBC, CBS and Fox’s deals to air the rest of the NFL schedule expire. Now more than ever, the network wants a top-tier booth that McFarland and Joe Tessitore didn’t deliver last year.
We’ll see who else ESPN takes a look at, and where McFarland goes from here.
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