Betting Odds and Predictions for Jon Gruden Monday Night Football Replacement
He finally did it. After years of being the hottest name not on a sideline, Jon Gruden has finally found a job he couldn't say no to. Of course, not many people would say no to the obscene contract the always-questionable Raiders threw at him. Now he has to prove that he is worth all the hype - and dramatically better than he was during his last six years in Tampa Bay. While there will be lots of time to figure out what to expect from him in his new role, let's look now at what will happen to his old seat. The color commentator role for Monday Night Football is a plum role, and there is no shortage of interest in a high-profile, high-paying opportunity to work one night a week. Here's a look at how the odds break down so far ( odds are from Bovada ):
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Peyton Manning (+200): Peyton would probably be a good choice - the ESPN answer to the great debut of Tony Romo. He's funny, smart, and well enough spoken. It would play well, and I think that he could have the job if he wanted it. I'm not convinced that he wants it, though. He is a very competitive guy, and I don't see him settling for the relatively uneventful safety of the booth. Not yet. I see him following more of a John Elway path first, knowing that he will always be able to get into broadcast if and when he wants to. This is a false favorite in my eyes.
Louis Riddick (+400): There is a lot to like about Riddick's candidacy. First, he is already an ESPN employee, and he does good work. He has experience as a player, but he was far from a star, which brings a different flavor to things - and is a good contrast to all the superstars in other booths. He's also African American, which is definitely a positive given the disproportionate makeup of high-profile booth guys these days - there is no shortage of white star quarterbacks right now. And he has front office experience, so he brings balanced insight into that side of the business as well. Like Manning, though, I'm not convinced he wants to settle down yet. ESPN is going to want a long-term commitment, but Riddick interviewed for the Giants GM gig at the end of December, so he obviously has management aspirations. He'd be my choice, but I wouldn't bet at this price that he will be the choice.
Kurt Warner (+400): Warner would be fine. I don't love his analyst work, but it's solid enough. And he certainly has the cachet as a hall of famer. I don't think he'd be a slam dunk, but it would fit and would be a safe choice. The price is probably reasonably fair.
Steve Young (+500): Young would be a good fit. He is well spoken, and does a very good job with the work he does now. He would be a guaranteed success. What's interesting, though, is that he has been vocal that he doesn't want the job. That could be posturing, but it seems a bit early for that. Not at this price.
Matt Hasselbeck (+800): If Hasselbeck is the pick then the MNF franchise is in trouble. He would be fine, and he does decent work. He's just so boring and would be about as sexy as tube socks. This is supposed to be the biggest of big roles in the business, so you can't replace a guy like Gruden with a guy who is the human equivalent of a bowl of plain oatmeal.
Tim Tebow (+900): I don't like to vomit. I don't want to have to vomit every week. I would have to if forced to watch Tebow in a role like this. I really hope this doesn't happen. Nothing against the guy - I just can't handle anything about him. Besides, he has a hall of fame baseball career to work on right now.
Rex Ryan (+900): The positive for Ryan is that he already has experience in the role - he did color on the second announcer team in Week 1 when there were two MNF games. The bad news, though, is that Ryan was mostly awful in that role. It was only one game, but he just didn't have 'it'. He loud, boisterous, and far from polished. It's the kind of schtick that can work well for a studio show, but I just don't see him as anything close to a value play here at this price.
Eli Manning (+2000): This is just silly. Aside from not being retired, you really have to ask yourself why the network would want the 'other' Manning. Every time anyone watched a game they would wonder why ESPN was too cheap or ineffective to get the good Manning. It's the kind of thing that would stick with him forever unless he could shake it - and he has shown no evidence that he has the presence or personality to do so.
Boomer Esiason (+2000): He's already had the role of color guy for MNF when it was on ABC, and he got booted for not getting along with Al Michaels. He's very well established as a radio guy now - including doing the color for MNF on radio. On the TV side his work as a studio analyst s solid, and at this point I don't sense a lot of hunger from people to see him back in the booth. He's a massive bargain compared to Eli at the same price, but it's not happening.
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