One of TV sports’ most dependable voices is making a big change as far as where that voice is coming from, for Monday Night Football commentator Mike Tirico is reportedly leaving the network he’s long called home for other possibly brighter pastures. He will soon say goodbye to ESPN and its parent companies and head over to NBC Sports. If you’ve ever thought to yourself that all NBC’s Summer Olympics coverage was missing was Mike Tirico next to Bob Costas, then don’t pinch yourself, because real life has made that a possibility.
Mike Tirico’s network switcheroo isn’t happening immediately, as this wasn’t spurred by any disastrous PR scandals or inner-office mayhem. His contract with ESPN is up this summer, and according to Sports Business Daily, he’s the one deciding not to renew anything. The deal with NBC couldn’t be confirmed on their end, since they claim they don’t speak about anyone working with another network.
Love him or hate him, Mike Tirico has been all over ESPN ever since he first joined SportsCenter back in 1991. Since 2006, he has absolutely been seen and heard the most during the ratings juggernaut Monday Night Football, so that will be a huge spot for the network to fill. It’s rumored that Sean McDonough, an announcer for many other major sports at ESPN, will be the one to grab the spot. Makes sense, as McDonough is a seasoned vet and also does the play-by-play for ESPN Radio’s NFL games, so he continually goes the extra mile in replacing the visual elements of the telecasts.
Speaking of rumors, Tirico is said to be the guy in mind to take on the play-by-play duties when NBC gets to air its share of the Thursday Night Football games this season. That would be the obvious choice to anyone invested in the matter, and the timing couldn’t be better for it. And now we can start speculating who NBC will choose to pair with him for color commentary. My vote is for Norm Macdonald.
Given how many hats Tirico wore at ESPN, it would seemingly be a rough task for the network to find any one person to serve as a fitting replacement. And ESPN hasn’t exactly been known for hanging onto its employees in the recent past, what with canning well-known faces like Curt Schilling and Bill Simmons. (Not without prodding, but still.) And people don’t say very good things about ESPN after leaving the outlet, either. I don’t think anyone would expect Mike Tirico to start shit-talking his former employer when he leaves, and that’s just one more aspect that’ll be hard to replace.
This would be the biggest shakeup on Monday Night Football since the program dumped Hank Williams, Jr. in 2011 and lost Ron Jaworsky in 2012. Before we see how that changes, though, you’ll still be able to find Tirico handling all of his normal ESPN announcing duties until his contract expires. What do you guys think about how Tirico's decision will switch up TV sports?