Like nearly anything else, being put into position to succeed as a broadcaster is one of the most important functions of success.
ESPN’s Jason Witten made strong statements on “Monday Night Football,” saying Washington used “horrendous judgment” in picking up Reuben Foster after another domestic violence accusation.
It was maybe Witten’s finest moment during a difficult rookie TV year, but it could have been more.
Witten said Washington should not have signed Foster, but was never asked about his own Cowboys, in 2015, bringing in Greg Hardy, who had been suspended for domestic violence.
Understandably, when Hardy was brought in as a teammate, Witten’s statements weren’t as strong, but he did seem to tip his hand back then.
“It’s not my job to decide who comes in,” Witten was quoted as saying in 2015. “I’m a tight end.”
That’s usually a player’s way of saying: Yeah, I wouldn’t have done that.
Networks hire ex-players as analysts so they can inform using their expertise. So the issue isn’t whether Witten was consistent enough as a player compared to as an analyst — as if he is running for political office or something.
No, what ESPN missed was Witten’s insights into how he handled Hardy joining his team, when he grew up with domestic violence and has a foundation that helps victims. This is the unique perspective that Witten could detail.
For example, how does the locker room handle it? How did he and his teammates feel about owner Jerry Jones giving Hardy another chance?
Meanwhile, on a TV note, it made no sense to have this discussion in the fourth quarter of a nine-point game. When the topic came up, ESPN took the cameras off the field to a two-shot of Witten and play-by-player Joe Tessitore before going down to the Booger Mobile to let Booger McFarland give his take.
When McFarland followed Witten and made his comments on Foster, Washington’s Mark Sanchez threw an interception that basically sealed the outcome. This left Tessitore in no-man’s land and McFarland’s comments sounding awkward over the pictures on screen.
ESPN, we’re told, planned to bring up the topic in the second quarter, but then Washington’s Colt McCoy broke his leg, forcing it to audible. NFL telecasts are hard to produce because there is a lot going on, but ESPN wants “Monday Night Football” to be looked upon as the top of the heap, so it can’t be graded on a curve.
On Monday nights, Witten has been the focus most weeks. For this one, he should have been more.
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