In it for the long haul: The Athletic profiles Monday Night Football

Last week in Seattle, national NFL reporter Lindsay Jones of The Athletic spent the weekend with ESPN’s Monday Night Football crew, observing their extensive preparation, meetings and rehearsals as well as the Vikings-Seahawks telecast.

MNF: Saints at Panthers, Tonight, 8:15 ET, ESPN
NFC South rivals the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers meet tonight in Charlotte for a game with playoff implications.

Published earlier today, Jones’ story offers a unique, behind-the-scenes look at ESPN’s new team and all the work they put into the game production.

The piece also explores their continued progress and how the group – Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland and Lisa Salters – and ESPN’s production executives are already looking ahead to the 2019 season and beyond.

Notable excerpts:

ESPN MNF analyst Jason Witten: “I’m committed to the long-game approach of being (a broadcaster). If I could say anything, not in a sensitive or bitter way, it would just be, ‘Hey, look, if you really just studied [the MNF presentation] and looked at it and watched it, it has evolved.'”

The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones: “ESPN viewers should expect to see and hear Witten plenty this spring. Studio work, live television hits and radio appearances will be his broadcast version of an NFL team’s offseason workout program as he prepares for his sophomore season in the booth. And to be clear, everyone on this crew expects to return to the Monday Night Football crew in 2019 with the same overall setup – Tessitore and Witten in the booth, McFarland and Salters on the sideline, and the talent all have multi-year contracts telling them as much.”

ESPN Vice President, Production Lee Fitting: “Patience is a big part of this for me…I don’t want to live in the knee-jerk world of, ‘Hey social media doesn’t like him, they don’t like this or that,’ and make a change. I just want to see it play out, I want to see them get better together. … We see glimpses of them being really good from time to time, and the last few weeks there has been more of it, I just want to see more of that.”