ESPN announced its new Monday Night Football commentator team today: play-by-play voice Joe Tessitore, analysts Jason Witten and Booger McFarland, and reporter Lisa Salters.
Over the past few months, ESPN conducted an exhaustive search to determine the new team.
The process included nearly a dozen auditions as Tessitore called ESPN’s 2018 AFC Wild Card game – Tennessee Titans versus Kansas City Chiefs – with each potential candidate off monitors in a voiceover booth on ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., campus. But Tessitore did more than just call a practice game with his prospective partners. He also broke bread with them.
ESPN’s new MNF voice wanted to get to know each individual on a more personal level, so he hosted a dinner the night before the rehearsals.
The visits with Witten and McFarland were particularly special.
“Jason travelled to Connecticut on two separate occasions and was at my house more than he was at ESPN,” said Tessitore. “The moment ‘Witt’ walked into my kitchen he fit right in. Like-minded and full of life. He passed the ultimate test – he can have a never-ending Italian feast while talking ball.
“At one point, my son and his prep school football teammates stopped by. The next thing I know, there’s Jason Witten, sport coat off, on the front lawn catching passes against press coverage while wearing dress shoes!”
He added: “For years now Booger has been like family to me. He’s been to our house numerous times, and he joined us during this process as well. Trust me, Boog is not bashful at all about eating well with the Tessitores. The laughs we have never stop.”
On concluding the search process, Tessitore said: “Booger and Jason are my dream team. Everyone who auditioned was so impressive. With Boog and Witt, it was the chemistry and knowing we have only scratched the surface of what it will be.”
This fall, Tessitore, Witten, McFarland, and Salters will have a great slate of Monday Night Football games to call – and even more, opportunities to share dinners together.