Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN is searching for a new analyst who can fill the massive shoes of Jon Gruden next season for its “Monday Night Football” broadcasts, and there is one man who could almost certainly have the job if he wanted it. The question is whether or not that man is interested.

Richard Deitsch spoke with ESPN executive Stephanie Druley about the search to replace Gruden, and she described the type of candidate the network is looking for.

“We want someone who loves the game, who is a student of the game but who has a personality as well,” Druley said. “We want them to have interests outside of football and the ability to connect with the viewers. We talk often about how a broadcast should personalize and analyze—and I think we need to do more of that in the MNF booth.”

Would anyone fit that description better than Peyton Manning? To this point, Manning has not indicated that he is interested in pursuing a career as a broadcaster. According to Druley, that isn’t going to stop ESPN from reaching out to him.

“We like Peyton Manning,” Druley said. “And we would be foolish not to talk him.”

Matt Hasselbeck is set to work as the television analyst for the Pro Bowl alongside Sean McDonough next weekend, and there has been speculation that he will be auditioning for a “Monday Night Football” role. Druley said that is not necessarily the case, though she said Hasselbeck is definitely a candidate for the job.

The name of the game is ratings, and no one would produce better ratings for “Monday Night Football” than Manning. For what it’s worth, Las Vegas seems to think Manning is the most likely person to replace Gruden. But based on some of the things we have heard about where Manning wants his career to go next, it seems doubtful that we’ll be hearing his voice during Monday night games in 2018.

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This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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