Isn’t it funny how the death of Grumors has given life to new Peyton Manning rumors? It’s like the circle of life for the Vols offseason.
Famed football coach Jon Gruden killed the “grumors” once and for all by accepting a massive 10-year contract to once again coach the Oakland Raiders. The move came just weeks after a Vols coaching search that featured rumors on the former Tennessee grad assistant’s every move concluded with the hiring of former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.
But his new gig with the Raiders leaves a gaping hole in the booth for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, where Gruden became a fixture with his color analyst during the last decade.
Gruden leaves some very big shoes to fill at ESPN, and many folks’ dream choice appears to be Vols legend Peyton Manning.
But does ESPN share that sentiment? It kinda sounds like it.
According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, ESPN’s Stephanie Druley indicates the Worldwide Leader has reached out to the retired quarterback and expressed their interest in him. The ball now appears to be in his court:
The white whale for all NFL television rightsholders is Peyton Manning, who has not shown any interesting in broadcasting so far. Asked whether the network would reach out to Manning on the remote chance he was interested, Druley said that Manning is aware of ESPN’s interest but nothing beyond that at this time. “We like Peyton Manning,’ Druley said. “And we would be foolish not to talk him.”
Much like Gruden was for Vols fans, Manning may be an unrealistic dream for ESPN watchers hoping to get some of the quarterback’s quick wit in the booth this fall.
Who knows, though. Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo successfully made the immediate transition from player to color analyst during the 2017 season, jumping right into CBS’s “A-team” booth with play-by-play man Jim Nantz. Manning could almost assuredly do the same at ESPN.
The popular name in the search to replace Gruden is another former quarterback: ESPN’s Matt Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck appears to have drawn the first chance to show he’s capable of replacing Gruden, as he will work alongside Monday Night Football play-by-play man Sean McDonough for ESPN’s upcoming broadcast of the Pro Bowl.