Booger McFarland sees and hears your complaints, but that doesn’t mean he actually cares about you not liking him.
McFarland, who is in his 2nd-year as an analyst on ESPN’s Monday Night Football alongside play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore, stated that he’s aware of people on social media calling him out for every mistake he makes. The 41-year-old doesn’t let any of it bring him down.
“It doesn’t bother me whatsoever because I don’t serve Twitter. My bosses are ESPN and Disney… I listen to my producer, I listen to my play-by-play guy,” McFarland said in an interview with the Inquirer. “I don’t go into a broadcast and say, ‘Man, tonight I’m going to please Twitter.’ I honestly could care less about social media.”
“If you look at the other guys in my position, they’re all offensive guys. So the game is usually told through an offensive prism,” McFarland said. “As a former defensive player, there’s a balance to what I do that’s different. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just different.”
“You haven’t seen people like me in this position,” McFarland added, describing himself as a “Southern country boy who talks about hog cracklin’ and fried chicken.”
McFarland is actually the 1st full-time African American analyst in a network’s No. 1 booth since O.J. Simpson left Monday Night Football in 1985.
The network auditioned several potential analysts after Jon Gruden left to be the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, passing on Hall of Famers Kurt Warner and Brett Favre; Panthers tight end Greg Olsen; and former Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer in order to sign McFarland and Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.
Witten has since went back to the Dallas Cowboys and McFarland went from being on a mobile chair outside the booth to inside in 2019.
“I give ESPN a lot of credit for being innovative and trying to do that, but in the end, I think even the staunchest supporters of the idea would tell you that it didn’t work,” McFarland said. “I could see the game, but I couldn’t see it to the level that I can now. I mean, it’s almost like I was a blind man that now can see.”
Just like Witten in 2018, McFarland has had to deal with his fare share of criticism from mistakes he made on the air.
“When you’re on live TV for three and a half hours, it’s never going to be perfect,” McFarland said. “[Cris] Collinsworth talked about Dak [Prescott] buying his mom a house, and Dak’s mom has been dead for several years. Things happen, and you own it, you correct it, and you move on.”
“Fifteen million people are tuning in to hear me, Tess, [rules analyst] John Parry, and [sideline reporter] Lisa Salters,” McFarland said. “So four people get to captivate 15 million people. How the hell could you not be excited about that?”