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Mike Tirico Reportedly Leaving ESPN for NBC in Summer 2016

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2016

In this Sept. 14, 2009 photo, ESPN broadcaster Mike Tirico speaks before an NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills in Foxborough, Mass. A person familiar with the move said Tirico is leaving ESPN and ABC Sports this summer when his contract expires to work for NBC. The person spoke Monday, April 25, 2016, to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither network had made an announcement about the broadcaster. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

Monday Night Football announcer Mike Tirico is reportedly set to leave ESPN and will join NBC once his current contract expires this summer.

John Ourand of Sports Business Daily first reported the news. Larry Lage of the Associated Press confirmed the report.

Tirico is expected to take over as NBC's play-by-play commentator for Thursday Night Football and could play a role in the network's golf coverage, according to Sports Business Daily. The outlet noted Al Michaels, who does play-by-play for NBC's Sunday Night Football, has two years left on his deal.

The 49-year-old sportscaster has covered a wide array of sports during his time at ESPN, which began in 1991. His most prominent assignments have been the NFL and NBA, but he's also been involved in college sports, golf, tennis and the FIFA World Cup.

He took over the Monday Night Football job, one of the most high-profile positions in sports broadcasting, in 2006. His expected exit will force ESPN to find a new face of the program.

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reported Monday that none of the entities involved would comment on the situation as Tirico continues to cover the NBA playoffs for ESPN. That said, Deitsch noted Sean McDonough has emerged as the top internal candidate for the MNF gig:

An ESPN source confirmed to SI that (McDonough) is currently the leading candidate to replace Tirico as the voice of Monday Night Football. (Ourand and Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson reported the same thing.) That would be an excellent solution given the quality of McDonough's work. The one downside: McDonough and Chris Spielman have developed into ESPN's best college football announcing team.

If McDonough does receive the first crack to fill the void, he'll have big shoes to fill. Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports, who previously worked at ESPN, had high praise for Tirico:

Colin Cowherd @ColinCowherd

Mike Tirico has never needed a TelePrompTer to be great. A truly gifted, engaging communicator. Deserves all his success.

On the flip side, it's a major coup for NBC. Tirico has proved himself as an ultra-prepared, well-versed commentator over the past two-and-a-half decades at ESPN. His ability to handle a multitude of sports will give the network plenty of options moving forward.

While he may start with Thursday Night Football and golf, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him eventually take over Sunday Night Football play-by-play and Olympics hosting if Michaels and Bob Costas step away during the length of Tirico's deal.

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