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Sean McDonough Opens Up About Monday Night Football Experience

McDonough spent two seasons in the booth with Jon Gruden.

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Courtesy: AP

Jon Gruden and Sean McDonough made it through two seasons as broadcast partners on Monday Night Football, a tenure that Mcdonough reflected on during this week’s SI Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina.

“It wasn’t great, but I’m glad I got the chance to do it,” McDonough said on the show. “Do I think we were bad? No, I thought it was fine. But it could’ve been great in my opinion, and it wasn’t.” 

McDonough dove deeper into the “awkward” dynamic between him and Gruden, who were paired together before the 2016 season when Mike Tirico left ESPN for NBC.

“You’re standing there next to somebody wondering, ‘If I ask him a question about this, is he gonna answer it or is he gonna be annoyed that I asked him?’” McDonough said. “So it was uncomfortable. … The part of it that bothered me was the narrative of some people in your line of work, ‘Oh, well that was a little too big for McDonough.’ I did the World Series when I was 30. I don’t think anybody thought I was nervous or out of place.”

The two went their separate ways following the 2017 season when Gruden returned to coaching as the head man for the Las Vegas Raiders, and McDonough slid back into his role as a lead broadcaster on ESPN’s college football team. McDonough pointed out to Traina that production tended to favor Gruden’s strengths over more conversational strategies.

“I think, to be totally candid, Jon Gruden enjoyed the X-and-O part of it,” McDonough said. “He loved the telestrator. He told me when I first got the job, ‘I don’t like stories.’ So he didn’t want the stories, and he didn’t want to engage in conversation. There were times when I would ask him a question or make a point, and he didn’t respond, and I think it was just because he was so focused on, ‘I’m gonna dive into this play,’ and he just didn’t want to do it… Jon’s the analyst. TV is an analyst-driven medium. It was his strength. They played to his strength. It made sense. It just didn’t match with what I was there to do.”

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Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football

“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”

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While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years. 

Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.

“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”

Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.

“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck. 

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Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys

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The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.

Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.

But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.

Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:

Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.

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Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”

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USA Today

Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.

The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.

Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.

“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”

Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”

He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.

Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.

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