FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tonight’s Monday Night Football game – the Baltimore Ravens versus the New England Patriots (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) – has special significance to ESPN’s Sean McDonough.
In fact, this particular game means so much to him, he’s had the date circled on his calendar since he was offered the MNF play-by-play job some seven months ago.
McDonough’s father, Will, was a legendary sports writer for The Boston Globe and a pioneer as one of the first print journalists to work on television – first hired by CBS and later by NBC. The Globe’s first Patriots beat reporter when the franchise debuted in the American Football League in 1960, the elder McDonough covered the Pats and the NFL for more than 40 years.
Before calling his first Patriots home game on MNF tonight, McDonough spoke with Front Row about the significance of the game and why he will be thinking of his dad.
“I spent so much time during my childhood in the old stadium attending Patriots games while my Dad covered them. My father’s association with the Patriots dated back to the very beginning of the franchise in 1960, before I was born.
“It will be a very emotional experience thinking about all of those fun days in Foxborough as a youth, and thinking about how awesome my father would think it is that his son is behind the MNF microphone, particularly for a Patriots’ home game. As a proud Bostonian and New Englander, it doesn’t get much better than this for me. The fact that it is a game between two first-place teams who have developed a great and significant rivalry makes it that much more exciting.
“I don’t have a singular favorite memory of going to the Patriots home games with my Dad. Every trip down to Foxborough was special. Spending time with Dad on the ride to and from the stadium. The anticipation of the game and what might happen that day.
“My brother Terry, sister Erin and I would sit up in Section 316 (which would qualify as a “nosebleed section” in the old Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium), while my Dad was in the press box. We learned a lot about life, and a few new words, as we watched those games, surrounded by some true characters who were die-hard Patriots fans, even when the team wasn’t very good. Going to Patriots games as a kid, and watching Monday Night Football on TV with my Dad, are some of the best and most vivid memories of my childhood.”