Fans are getting introduced to two new crews of Monday Night Football announcers for the 2018 opening night broadcast, including Beth Mowins who is calling the Jets-Lions game on ESPN. Mowins is joined by Brian Griese and Laura Rutledge in tonight’s early game. The late game between the Raiders and Rams will feature the brand new Monday Night Football crew with Jon Gruden getting back into coaching, while Sean McDonough is now calling college football games.
Joe Tessitore will serve as the new play-by-play person for the majority of MNF games, and debuts in his new role in the Rams-Raiders contest. He will be joined by former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who headed to the booth after retiring from the NFL this summer. Booger McFarland, known for his college football work, will be providing insight as a field analyst. Lisa Salters will serve as the sideline reporter.
Mowins may be new to some, but the veteran announcer already made history as the first female broadcaster to call a nationally televised NFL game when she called the Chargers-Broncos season opener in 2017 on ESPN. She also called four more NFL games last season for CBS.
“Beth will continue her groundbreaking NFL role calling another prime-time game on Monday Night Football with Brian, whose experience in the league combined with his ability as a broadcaster makes him a natural fit for this assignment,” ESPN Senior Vice President Stephanie Druley said in a press release. “Joined by Laura on the sidelines, this talented and entertaining team will kick off our NFL opening night on ESPN.”
Mowins spoke with SB Nation about what it is like calling an NFL game.
Watching college football and the NFL — I always wanted football to be a part of that. When you talk about the Monday Night Football franchise, there’s nothing bigger on television when you think back over all the people that have been a part.
“So it was a tremendous feeling of just satisfaction of all the hard work and all the time spent trying to prepare for that opportunity. Very shortly thereafter, it clicks into prep mode — OK what’s the game, what are the teams. And you fall back on a lot of the repetitions over the years calling other football games.
Jason Witten Makes Regular Season Monday Night Football Debut With Joe Tessitore
Witten made his announcing debut during the preseason and was widely criticized for his first performance. Witten admits he is still learning on the job but is used to getting criticized given he played in the NFL for more than a decade.
“It was the first game I had called in my life,” Witten told Sports Illustrated. “I know I had to be bad at it… but I liked the challenge of communicating my passion for the game.”
If fans are wondering if he will look to protect former teammates, Witten said his job is to be honest about what he sees, even if it means criticizing someone.
“I’m not trying to bury anybody, but I’ve got to call it like it is,” Witten noted to Sports Illustrated. “Even former teammates? I did it when I played with them! There’ll be lots of guys I played with who will say, He would not get off my ass.”
Some Confused Fans Thought Doris Burke Was Calling Monday Night Football
Some fans on social media have confused Mowins’ voice with legendary NBA announcer Doris Burke, who was not calling the Monday Night Football game. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, ESPN colleague Holly Rowe credited both Burke and Mowins for paving the way for other women in the sports industry.
I have often fought a battle with men who think women like Doris Burke, Jessica Mendoza and Beth Mowins shouldn’t have certain roles in sports commentating. I simply say, don’t think of her as a woman, just listen to WHAT is said, not who is saying it. EVERY time and I mean EVERY time, they tell me, “Wow, you were right!” They had just been caught up in the old idea of how things have always been. Beth Mowins is simply one of the finest announcers I ever work with. Her pride in preparation, sense of story, sense of moment, technical organization and team work, is second to none. Also, she is hilarious and delightful. She deserves every opportunity she gets and should have gotten some of them years ago. A good announcer is a good announcer. She will show you!