ESPN Monday Night Football Conference Call Recap


ESPN Monday Night Football Conference Call Recap


ESPN hosted a media conference call Thursday, Dec. 2, with Monday Night Football commentators Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski, and senior coordinating producer Jay Rothman, to preview this week’s New York Jets (9-2) vs. New England Patriots (9-2) AFC East matchup on ESPN. Monday’s game marks just the fourth time two teams with 9-2 records or better are playing each other on MNF, and the first time since 1990. An entire replay of the call is available, and below are select comments. 

On the importance of this MNF game for the Patriots and Jets…

Gruden: “The game is equally important  for  both teams but given the fact that it’s at New England and the Jets have already beaten New England this season, I think it’s a little bigger for  the Patriots. I don’t see anybody sweeping Tom Brady twice in the same season in my lifetime. It’s going to be a tall order I believe for the Jets. I think Brady is at the top of his game and the consecutive winning streak at home is unbelievable.”

On the significance of the Jets and Patriots holding 9-2 records headed into Monday’s game

Tirico:It’s been 20 years since we’ve had a Monday night game this late in the season with teams having records this good… It’s a game that has all that buildup and hopefully it will deliver…You also have that New York-Boston dynamic which is unique and special…all that venom between the two cities built up adds to the dynamic going in.”

Jaworski: “What I like is the intrigue about these two teams and their coaches and how they act. They are kind of polar opposites, and I think that is going to make this game so very interesting not only to us but intriguing to people around the country. These are very unique organizations and really two different teams on and off the field and they clash on Monday night and make it very interesting.”

On Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s relationship…

Jaworski: “I can’t think of a quarterback and coach in history or this period of time to have what they’ve accomplished. They are literally joined at the hip. When I think about the success they’ve had, the one thing that jumps out at me is that …they are fierce competitors that hate to lose.”

On Jets head coach Rex Ryan…

Gruden: “He assembled a great staff and he’s very confident in his abilities. He is who he is. I think he’s funny, I think he’s a riot. I love watching his press conferences. I like watching it during the week, and I like watching his team back it up on game day. He has his own style and he’s consistent with that. I give him credit for that and he’s also got the players to back it up.”

Jaworski: “As a football guy, he’s outstanding with the X’s and O’s. Don’t let the fun he has on TV and way he jokes around fool you. The guy is brilliant when it comes to designing the X’s and O’s in the game. I find it very refreshing…We act like it’s brain surgery at kickoff. It’s still sport. It’s still fun. It’s still a game. It’s important to win, but I think Rex has a great understanding how the game should be played and never forgot it was a game.”

On Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson caught on camera laughing during this week’s MNF game…

Rothman: “The cameras are not just dedicated to the field. So much of the game is determined on the sidelines when units are off the field being coached up or whatever they’re doing and it’s our job to document the game. Part of that are the emotions and things that go on, not just on the field. It’s not our intention to dig dirt. Just like Tom Brady riling up the bench, our take is to document the game — be it on the field or sidelines. In the case of Derek Anderson, it’s unusual to see that type of emotion…It appeared odd to us, again not knowing the context, but with the season on the line, it seemed odd.”

Gruden: “My comment was based on the entire football game…When you fumble the ball on the first play of the game and the next two and a half – three hours are an incredible struggle…down by 18 points…season’s on the brink …As a coach I don’t remember seeing that from any of my players or players of any other broadcasts that I’ve seen. I wasn’t trying to dig dirt or be too negative at all but that was a reaction on field that I don’t recall ever seeing, given the circumstances of the entire night.”

At the start of the call ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson and Gruden addressed the reports this week linking Gruden to the University of Miami…

Williamson: “For a little perspective, we at ESPN actually want our analysts to be sought after by the sports they cover. Anytime that happens, it demonstrates a level of relevancy, expertise in a particular sport…with that said, very specifically, Jon’s contract with ESPN runs through the 2011 season and he’s made that commitment.”

Gruden: “I’m very thankful for the job that I have and I’m eager to try and get better at it. I know there was a lot of speculation over the last few days and I’m sorry for that. I’m excited to be on Monday Night Football with Ron and Mike.”


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