The ESPN Monday Night Football announcers are taking some serious heat after a game in which they talked more about Jason Witten’s playing career than the players on the field and failed to even mention a key interception to instead lecture viewers about the dangers of domestic violence.
Monday’s contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins had huge playoff implications, with the Eagles clawing their way back into contention in the division with a big 28-13 victory. But instead of enjoying the game, many viewers were instead taking to the internet to complain about the announcing crew and the lack of focus on the game itself.
“I dont think espn or the announcers know that there’s a game going on,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “This is brutal.”
“It was cool that ESPN included footage of a football game with Witten and Booger’s Ted Talks on domestic violence,” another fan shared on Reddit.
The crew frequently talked about Witten’s playing days with the Dallas Cowboys, showing several highlights of his play and setting him up to share his playing memories. They later took several minutes sharing thoughts on the Redskins’ decision to sign Reuben Foster after his domestic violence arrest, but color commentator Booger MacFarland failed to stop his pontificating to let viewers know that the Eagles made a key interception, one that basically sealed the game.
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) December 4, 2018
Many were also angered by Witten’s impassioned condemnation of the Redskins for signing Foster, even though Witten had defended former teammate Greg Hardy after Hardy’s domestic violence arrest.
Also I am not trying to discredit Jason Witten's experiences, but here is what he said about Greg Hardy. Like I always tell you guys lot of hypocrisy comes out of these guy's mouth. pic.twitter.com/iSn4EnzNRX
— Robert Littal (@BSO) December 4, 2018
This is not the first time that ESPN’s Monday Night Football announcing crew has come under fire, and even ESPN has been forced to acknowledge that Witten has some growing pains. While the network may have hoped to capture some of the magic of Witten’s former quarterback Tony Romo, who in his second season is already considered one of the best color commentators, in reality it’s not been a smooth transition for Witten.
“It’s been 12 games,” ESPN Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman said about Witten’s first season in the booth (via the Star Telegram). “We knew this would not be an overnight sensation, and I do believe he is getting better and better. We just ask for a little patience.”
The Monday Night Football crew has seen other criticism, including the giant mobile cart that houses Booger MacFarland on the sidelines. Early in the season, the cart had a large scaffold that obscured the view for fans in several of the front rows, prompting plenty of heckling as he maneuvered along the sidelines. ESPN has since changed the cart to have a clear back.