With Jon Gruden returning to the Oakland Raiders and Sean McDonough going back to college football, ESPN’s Monday Night Football needed a reboot. On the commentary front, Joe Tessitore is the new play-by-play voice, with the recently retired Jason Witten joining him in the booth, while Booger McFarland plays a Tony Siragusa-ish role of roving sideline analyst.
Another change at ESPN is the departure of Gerry Austin, who was MNF’s official rules analyst given his extensive experience as an NFL official. Austin is also headed to Oakland, so that’s another void that needed to be filled.
Well guess what? If you absolutely despised whenever former head official Jeff Triplette officiated games, the NFL has brought him back to be the new rules analyst. I say “the NFL” and not ESPN because Football Zebras reported that “the NFL specifically steered ESPN to hire Triplette.”
Let’s not kid ourselves, Triplette has had plenty of on-field controversies and questionable decisions. I think Deadspin summed up his history quite well:
Triplette is probably best known as the guy indirectly responsible for the centralization of the NFL’s replay review system, which came about when he so badly screwed up a touchdown call that VP of officiating Dean Blandino had to babysit Triplette on replay reviews during the postseason game Triplette called that season. He’s also known for confusing everyone in the world on a first-down screw-up in 2013, and blinding Orlando Brown with a penalty flag. But on ESPN, presumably confined to a small room with a few TVs, it might actually be entertaining to see what mishaps befall him.
As if that wasn’t enough, Seahawks fans may remember that his crew took away three Percy Harvin touchdowns from Seattle in the team’s 24-14 win over Washington on Monday Night Football. The Seahawks were penalized 13 times for 90 yards, whereas Washington only had 3 for 30 yards.
Hey, maybe he’s better at explaining rules from a broadcast booth than he is at properly applying those rules in a game.
For more uplifting news, Football Zebra also reports that the well-respected Terry MacAulay, who refereed the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos, has made the surprising move to step away from the field and become Sunday Night Football’s rules analyst. I guess Ed Hochuli’s longwinded explanations are not TV-friendly, and perhaps he has no interest in the gig anyway.