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After Peyton Manning turns down ESPN, Panthers star could be new voice of 'MNF'

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ESPN has been searching for the right person to replace Jon Gruden as lead analyst on “Monday Night Football.”

Gruden, who reportedly was the network’s highest-paid personality at $6.5 million per year, couldn’t resist the Oakland Raiders’ $100 million offer to return to coaching.

According to multiple reports, ESPN’s first choice to fill Gruden’s shoes on “MNF” is Peyton Manning, and it’s willing to pay him as much as $10 million.

But the future Hall of Fame quarterback has turned it down, the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reported.

Now, after being rejected by a former player, ESPN is considering a current player.

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Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen auditioned for the “MNF” job Friday.

Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowler, has made it clear he wants a career in broadcasting when his playing days are over — and a high-profile opportunity like “Monday Night Football” might make that happen sooner rather than later.

“Olsen, 33, still could return to the Panthers to play another season, but if he were offered a plum TV job, like Monday night, he could hang up his cleats,” Marchand reported Friday.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, however, said Olsen is committed to playing for the Panthers next year.

Olsen already has some broadcasting experience. When he was out with a foot injury last season, Fox enlisted him as an analyst for the Rams-Vikings game in November.

The move brought criticism from Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, who complained to the NFL and Fox.

Would you like to see Greg Olsen as lead analyst on "Monday Night Football"?

In response, Fox limited Olsen’s pregame access.

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A couple of months later, the star tight end worked as a guest analyst on ESPN in its pregame coverage of Super Bowl LII.

“Greg is a great player who knows the game and how to share his insight with fans,” ESPN senior marketing coordinator Seth Markman said at the time.

In addition to his stellar work on the field — the former Miami Hurricane has 639 receptions for 7,556 yards and 53 touchdowns in his 11-year career — Olsen was a finalist for the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. NFL.com described his charitable work:

In 2009, after watching his mother tackle and survive breast cancer, Olsen founded Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. The Foundation’s Receiving Hope program focuses on cancer research and education programming.

In early 2013, Olsen and his wife Kara founded the HEARTest Yard Fund after a routine examination of their unborn son, T.J., revealed the infant had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a congenital defect marked by an underdeveloped left ventricle and aorta. The HEARTest Yard Fund, an umbrella program under Olsen’s Receptions for Research Foundation, is a family service program administered in conjunction with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. The cutting-edge program provides families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with services including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy, all at no cost to the families or hospital.

In November 2017, the HEARTest Yard’s cutting-edge programming expanded when Greg and Kara announced the initiative’s new cardiac neurodevelopmental program — the first of its kind in the region. Since 2009, Receptions for Research has distributed over $3.5 million in support.

Other possible candidates for the “Monday Night Football” analyst gig include Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss, Louis Riddick and Kurt Warner.

Whoever gets the job won’t be the only new face on “MNF”: Play-by-play man Sean McDonough is out, and he’ll reportedly be replaced by Joe Tessitore.

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Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He has worked as an editor or reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years.
Todd Windsor is a senior story editor at The Western Journal. He was born in Baltimore and grew up in Maryland. He graduated from the University of Miami (he dreams of wearing the turnover chain) and has worked as an editor and reporter in news and sports for more than 30 years. Todd started at The Miami News (defunct) and went on to work at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., the St. Petersburg (now Tampa Bay) Times, The Baltimore Sun and Space News before joining Liftable Media in 2016. He and his beautiful wife have two amazing daughters and a very old Beagle.
Birthplace
Baltimore
Education
Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Media, Sports




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