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Peyton Manning reportedly being hotly pursued by two different networks

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Since Peyton Manning retired after leading the Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50, he has been a hot property for TV networks.

Rumors swirled about what Manning would do after football, and many felt that if the talented Manning wanted to go into the broadcast booth, he could pick any job he wanted.

Well now, that talk is heating up.

The New York Post reports that both ESPN and Fox are pursuing Manning as a primetime game analyst.

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While it’s been widely reported that ultimately Manning would like to run or have an ownership stake in a team, the Post’s Andrew Marchand said Manning has not ruled out TV in the interim, according to multiple TV officials who have spoken to him.

Fox tried to woo Manning before this past season and is still interested in hiring him, but now it’s ESPN that’s most aggressively pursuing him, according to Marchand.

“In the words of one source, ESPN is willing to ‘back up the truck’ for Manning, wanting to make a splash in replacing Jon Gruden as the analyst on ‘Monday Night Football.’ Gruden was reportedly the highest-paid ESPN employee, making more than $6.5 million before leaving for a 10-year, $100 million coaching deal with the Raiders,” Marchand wrote.

Would you like to see Peyton Manning in the broadcast booth?

Sources told the Post that ESPN is considering a total reboot of “Monday Night Football,” and that could include a replacement for “MNF” play-by-play man Sean McDonough.

Top internal candidates for the job would include Joe Tessitore, Steve Levy, Dave Pasch and Bob Wischusen, according to the Post; of them, only Pasch, for the Cardinals, and Wischusen, for the Jets, have called NFL games. Top external candidates would include CBS’ Ian Eagle and Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt, but both are under contract with their respective networks.

According to Marchand, if ESPN’s pursuit of Manning as the lead analyst doesn’t pan out, top candidates for that job include Matt Hasselbeck, who called the Pro Bowl with McDonough; Randy Moss; Charles Woodson; and Kurt Warner.

Fox is reportedly pursuing Manning to be its lead analyst for “Thursday Night Football,” for which Fox acquired the broadcasting rights in January.

Gus Johnson, who currently calls college football and basketball games for Fox, is the leading candidate to be the network’s play-by-play announcer for “TNF,” according to Marchand.

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“A person with knowledge of Manning’s thinking said the fact that Fox’s Thursday games would not take him away on weekends could work to the network’s advantage,” Marchand writes. “Though the ESPN telecast is on Monday, crews come in earlier for final preparations over the weekend. Though the NFL has devalued ‘MNF’ by giving ESPN subpar games, it is still considered the more marquee weeknight game.”

But the report suggests Manning isn’t all that excited about the idea of working NFL games as an analyst, quoting a TV executive who has spoken to him about broadcasting as saying, “Manning has never given off the full vibe that he wanted to be in the booth.”

Manning has been clearly enjoying his retirement, but whether or not these networks can entice him into a career in broadcasting will be interesting to watch. There’s little doubt that if he did decide to go in this direction, he’d excel at it, given his knowledge, personality and success as a pitchman.

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
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