Sean McDonough reveals why things were 'awkward' with Jon Gruden on 'Monday Night Football'

·2 min read

Sean McDonough didn't exactly enjoy his time calling "Monday Night Football." Shortly after leaving the program, McDonough revealed he was frustrated over the quality of games he had to call. During a podcast appearance Thursday, McDonough revealed how his chemistry with partner Jon Gruden led to some "awkward" moments in the booth.

McDonough expanded on his relationship with Gruden during an appearance on the "Sports Illustrated Media Podcast" with Jimmy Traina. When asked about what went wrong on "Monday Night Football," McDonough said the directives he received from the network didn't fit Gruden's style in the booth.

"When I was hired, part of what I was instructed to do was to try and make it more conversational. Make it a little lighter. Bring out more of Jon Gruden's personality that you used to see from time to time on that quarterback show that he did ... and get into more storytelling.

"To be totally candid, Jon Gruden enjoyed the X and O part of it ... and he loved to telestrate. He told me when he first got the job, 'I don't like stories.' So, he didn't want the stories and he didn't really want to engage in conversation."

McDonough admitted that led to some "awkward" moments where he would ask a question and Gruden wouldn't respond because he was so focused on reviewing a play. McDonough said it wasn't just awkward for viewers, it was awkward and "uncomfortable" for McDonough as well. 

While it sounds like McDonough is criticizing Gruden, that's not the case. McDonough explained he understood it was Gruden's job to break down and analyze the game. That just wasn't what McDonough thought he was supposed to do when he was brought on to the program.

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and now ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden looks on during pre-game warm ups before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 18, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Former head coach of the Oakland Raiders and now ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst Jon Gruden looks on during pre-game warm ups before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 18, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

'Monday Night Football' booth has changed over the years

Gruden and McDonough didn't last long in the booth. McDonough left after two seasons to return to calling college games. Gruden left to coach the Oakland — now Las Vegas — Raiders. 

Since then, the booth has undergone numerous changes. Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland called games for a few seasons. They were joined by tight end Jason Witten for a year, though that didn't go well. 

Tessitore and McFarland were replaced by Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick in 2020. That trio will remain in the "Monday Night Football" booth in 2021.

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