ESPN could tap Adam Schefter to work with Peyton Manning and Eli Manning on its alternate “Monday Night Football” telecast during the 2021 NFL season, sources told FOS.
Schefter’s name has surged to the top of the candidates list to work with the Manning brothers on the 10-game MegaCast, which will air on ESPN2 and stream on Disney platforms like ESPN+.
However, ESPN is still casting a wide net for a host to work with the brothers on the so-called “ManningCast.” The network is still exploring multiple candidates and different options and no decisions have been made, said sources.
ESPN declined to comment on host candidates.
The possible selection of Schefter, ESPN’s Senior NFL insider, to work between the two former Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks might surprise some fans, but it shouldn’t.
ESPN is not looking for a traditional play-by-play announcer to work with the two former star quarterbacks.
Instead, sources tell FOS the network wants a host who can “facilitate” conversations between the two brothers known for their Super Bowl victories, deep NFL knowledge, and quick wits.
The Mannings will be joined on the air by famous athletes and celebrities. Viewers should expect a mix of analysis, NFL dialogue, and historical perspective. The hosting job is envisioned “more like Ernie Johnson Jr. — and less like Al Michaels,” said one source.
“It will be like watching ‘Monday Night Football’ with the Mannings and their friends. The win will be how funny and interesting the whole conversation is,” he said. “If you want down and distance, that’s on the main broadcast. This should look and feel totally different.”
Schefter already works the ‘”Monday Night Countdown” pregame show. If he wants the job, he will have plenty of competition. News of the Manning-Disney deal has sparked a stampede of play-by-play announcers, analysts, anchors, and insiders who want to land the coveted host job between the brothers.
“Everyone wants in. Every agent in town is calling ESPN,” said another source.
The Mannings have agreed to work 10 “MNF” games during the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons. The brothers will not be on-site. Instead, they’ll provide more free-wheeling “virtual” commentary from remote locations.
The MegaCast is designed to complement the traditional “MNF” telecast on ESPN or ABC, with Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, Brian Griese, Lisa Salters and John Parry.
Disney is creating the MegaCast in conjunction with the Mannings’ Omaha Productions, which produces the “PLACES” series on ESPN+ with Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Abby Wambach, Vince Carter, David Ortiz, and Ronda Rousey. The Manning brothers are expected to have virtual veto power over whoever is chosen as host.
The “MNF” MegaCast host job could be tied to Schefter’s contract situation. The 54-year old star signed a five-year contract extension in November, 2016, according to Richard Deitsch, now with The Athletic.
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At the time, ESPN enticed Schefter to stay by offering him an expanded presence, including sideline reporting roles on NFL and NBA and a new podcast. Working with the Mannings would be the ultimate reward for one of ESPN’s biggest talents.
Should he ever become a free agent, Schefter would be one of the most sought-after sports media talents in years. He boasts 8.4 million followers on Twitter, 1.3 million on Instagram, and 860,000 on Facebook.
With his two cell phones in hand, Schefter’s seen regularly on everything from “NFL Live” and “Sunday NFL Countdown” to “Get Up” and “SportsCenter.” He joined ESPN in 2009 after serving as a reporter and analyst for the NFL Network from 2004-2008.