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''Monday Night Football: The Next Generation''

By RD Heldenfels Published: February 8, 2006

If you thought the farewells by John Madden and Al Michaels at the end of the Super Bowl looked a little tepid, well, it doesn't seem to be a very long goodbye.

ESPN, which will have Monday night games in the fall, has let Michaels out of his deal, with a network executive saying ''Al was not comfortable with our vision'' for the telecasts. Michaels was also probably not comfortable to be off the big football venue -- which in the fall will be NBC's Sunday games. Which, by the way, will have Madden. So even before the Super Bowl, there was talk that Michaels would find a way to rejoin Madden, and I guess we can all now wait for that announcement from NBC. And this is where ESPN has gone, according to an announcement today:

Monday Night Football will begin an exciting new era on ESPN this fall with a talented new telecast team in the booth – Mike Tirico, one of the most versatile commentators in sports television, Joe Theismann, the outspoken NFL analyst who led his team to a Super Bowl title as a player, and analyst Tony Kornheiser, the popular co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and nationally-acclaimed Washington Post sports columnist. Sports television’s signature series will also feature the two most dynamic sideline reporters in the business, Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya, all under the guiding hands of ESPN’s Sports Emmy Award-winning NFL producer-director duo, Jay Rothman and Chip Dean.

ESPN has also announced that Mike Breen will become its lead NBA play-by-play commentator, where he will team with analyst Hubie Brown for ABC Sports telecasts beginning Feb. 12 and including the conference and NBA Finals.

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