Behind the Mic: Returning Trio of Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters Comprise the New Monday Night Football Look

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, ESPN revamps their Monday Night Football booth after the departure of Jason Witten, a former Mets manager joins MLB on Fox, the ACC Network adds a former Georgia Tech running back, NBC Sports Chicago signs a long-time on-air talent, the Premier Lacrosse League introduces their inaugural broadcast team, and Fox Sports gears up for yet another PBC Fight Night.

Play-by-play voice Joe Tessitore, analyst Booger McFarland, and reporter Lisa Salters will make their debut as ESPN’s new commentator team when Monday Night Football kicks off its 50th season this fall.

Tessitore, McFarland, and Salters – joined by new Officiating Analyst John Parry – will kick off the 2019 regular season on Monday, September 9 when the New Orleans Saints host the Houston Texans (7 p.m. ET) as part of ESPN’s opening-night doubleheader.

This fall, McFarland will move from his field-level analyst position in 2018 to the booth, alongside Tessitore.

“Booger’s insight, personality, and passion for the game make him the right person for the job. He and Joe have been close friends since they helped ESPN launch the SEC Network five years ago. Their chemistry together in the booth – and with Lisa – will give us a team that fans want to spend Monday nights with this fall,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production.

In 2018, Tessitore became just the sixth person to occupy the coveted MNF play-by-play position after working as a premier broadcaster on ESPN and ABC college football games for the better part of two decades. Highly versatile and one of the top game-callers in sports, Tessitore is also the lead blow-by-blow ringside commentator for Top Rank Boxing on ESPN.

“We’re all excited to kick off the 50th season of Monday Night Football and I am especially happy for Booger whose unique talent and uncommon perspective will now be showcased even more prominently in his new role,” said Tessitore. “With Lisa and the addition of Super Bowl referee John Parry, our goal is simple: serve the fan by documenting the event and celebrating the game as best we can.”

McFarland, a two-time Super Bowl champion, joined MNF in 2018 after serving as a college football analyst for four years on ESPN, ABC and the SEC Network. Widely praised for his football insights and gregarious persona, McFarland regularly contributes to a variety of studio programs and he was part of ESPN and ABC’s NFL Draft coverage last week in Nashville.

“I’m so excited to continue to be part of Monday Night Football, especially with the opportunity to be in the booth for the 50th season, working with true professionals and friends like Joe and Lisa,” he said. “We have a great slate of games and I look forward to starting our journey in Louisiana, where I was born and raised, with the Texans-Saints game in early September.”

Salters, who has signed a new multi-year ESPN extension, will return for her eighth MNF season this fall. An Emmy-winning reporter with more than two decades of experience, Salters is a sideline reporter for both MNF and NBA games on ESPN and ABC, as well as a featured correspondent for the award-winning E:60 news magazine.

“It continues to be my privilege to be a part of the MNF team,” she said. “Tess and Booger are both a pleasure to work with – and will prove to be the perfect duo to lead us forward…”

Terry Collins, a highly revered former manager of the New York Mets, Houston Astros, and Los Angeles Angels, joins Fox Sports as a studio analyst for the 2019 MLB season. The announcement was made by Brad Zager, Executive Vice President of Production & Operations and Executive Producer, Fox Sports.

Collins carries his fiery passion for the game from the field to the desk, making his broadcast debut on FS1’s MLB Whiparound alongside host Kevin Burkhardt and Baseball Hall of Famer and analyst Frank Thomas on Thursday, May 2. The former skipper joins the network for select studio coverage throughout the regular season.

Collins, the longest-tenured manager for the Mets, currently serves as Special Assistant to the club’s General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen. In his seven years as the Mets’ manager (2011-2017), Collins registered 551 wins, the second-most for a manager in franchise history. Collins led the Mets to consecutive playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, winning the National League pennant and a trip to the World Series in 2015. He also managed the 2016 National League All-Star team in San Diego (2016). Prior to his time in New York, Collins led the Angels (1997-1999) and Astros (1994-1996)…

…Georgia Tech fans will see former Yellow Jacket running back and team captain Roddy Jones on ACC Network (ACCN) this fall. Jones, who is currently a sideline analyst on ESPN’s college football coverage, will move to the booth and serve as an analyst for ACC football games on the new, 24/7 national platform that will launch on August 22, 2019. One week later, Georgia Tech will kick off ACC’s football slate on August 29 when it travels to Clemson in the season-opening game for both teams.

Jones was a four-year starter for the Yellow Jackets from 2008-11 and served as team captain his senior season. As a speedy slotback, Jones was a key figure in the Yellow Jackets’ high-powered rushing attack that broke numerous long-standing school records on the way to defeating Clemson in the 2009 ACC Championship Game. While on The Flats, Jones set a Georgia Tech record for career starts (52) while amassing the highest yards-per-carry average in GT history (7.6). He is forever etched in Georgia Tech football lore for rushing for 212 yards in an upset win at arch-rival Georgia in 2008. Off the field, Jones was a three-time All-ACC Academic Football Team honoree. He graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration (2010) and earned his MBA in 2013. Jones will begin his third season at ESPN this fall…

…NBC Sports Chicago has finalized an agreement with veteran Chicago sports broadcasting personality David Kaplan on a multi-year contract extension. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The announcement was made by Kevin Cross, Senior Vice President/General Manager, NBC Sports Chicago.

Kaplan, the Emmy award-winning host of NBC Sports Chicago’s weeknight local sports talk show SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado, will continue to host the popular roundtable discussion program, along with hosting Cubs Pre/Postgame Live surrounding the network’s Cubs telecasts for the remainder of this MLB season. He will continue as host of the acclaimed Kap & Company show on ESPN Radio 1000 (WMVP-AM), which airs weekdays from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. CT.

As part of his new agreement with NBC Sports Chicago, “Kap” will also be expanding his cross-platform responsibilities for the network beginning in October 2019, as he and NBC Sports Chicago’s content team will oversee the creation and execution of additional fan-focused content throughout the year on a variety of platforms, which includes digital, social, audio, and linear offerings…

… Host Paul Burmeister, play-by-play voice Brendan Burke, and analyst Ryan Boyle will be NBC Sports’ first-ever commentators for the Premier Lacrosse League’s inaugural season, beginning on Sat., June 1.

NHL play-by-play commentator Burke and men’s lacrosse Team USA World Champion Boyle will have the call from the booth during each broadcast, while Burmeister will provide pre-game, halftime, and postgame reports as well as sideline interviews. Chantel McCabe – anchor and reporter for Golf Central on the Golf Channel – will also serve as a reporter at various times throughout the season.

One of NBC Sports’ most versatile voices, Burmeister debuts as NBC Sports’ first-ever Premier Lacrosse League host. His extensive broadcasting resume includes serving as studio host and play-by-play commentator for NBC Sports Group across a number of properties, including the Tour de France, NHL Live and the All-American Bowl. Burmeister has handled three Olympic assignments for NBC Olympics, most recently during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics as a ski jumping play-by-play announcer. He has served as a co-host for Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, alongside co-host and NBC Sports NFL insider Mike Florio.

Burke currently serves as a play-by-play commentator for NBC Sports’ regular- and post-season NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage, as well as the play-by-play voice for New York Islanders telecasts on MSG+. Burke previously worked with the Utica Comets (AHL), where he served as the play-by-play commentator as well as pre-game, intermission, and post-game host since 2013. He was also part of the television team for the AHL All-Star Classic in 2015, and was honored after the season with the league’s James H. Ellery Award for “outstanding media coverage.” In addition, Burke has appeared on Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports 1 since 2012, calling college football and basketball.

Boyle – a four-time All-American attackman from Princeton University – brings an unmatched lacrosse IQ to the broadcast booth. Boyle helped lead the Tigers to the 2001 NCAA National Championship, as well as four consecutive Ivy League titles. He ranks third all-time in Princeton history with 232 career points (70 goals, 162 assists). Boyle additionally helped men’s lacrosse Team USA capture gold medals in the 2002 and 2010 World Lacrosse Championship. Additionally, Boyle played several seasons on the National Lacrosse League (NLL) indoor circuit…

…Fox Sports announces former WBC Super Welterweight World Champion Jermell Charlo joins International Boxing Hall of Famer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and host Kate Abdo live in Fox Sports’ Los Angeles studios for coverage of Fox PBC Fight Night: Jarrett Hurd vs. Julian Williams on Thursday, May 9 and Friday, May 10.

Calling the action live on Fox and streaming on the Fox Sports app Saturday, May 11 (8:00 PM ET) are former three-time heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, legendary trainer Joe Goossen, and blow-by-blow announcer Chris Myers. Veteran combat sports journalist Heidi Androl reports and interviews fighters, while International Boxing Hall of Famers Jimmy Lennon Jr. and Larry Hazzard are the ring announcer and unofficial scorer, respectively. On Fox Deportes, blow-by-blow announcer Adrian Garcia Marquez is joined by Erik Morales and Jessi Losada to call the fights in Spanish.

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