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With Jon Gruden heading to the Raiders, Could Peyton Manning replace him in the ‘Monday Night Football’ booth?

Any chance we see the former Tennessee great in the booth next season?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Tennessee Knoxville News Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

It appears that Jon Gruden might finally be making his return to the sidelines. The Raiders have reportedly scheduled a press conference to announce Jon Gruden as their next head coach.

While he won’t be coming to Knoxville like many speculated after the firing of Butch Jones in November, there is a Tennessee connection to his departure as the color commentator for ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast.

Michael McCarthy of Sporting News, among others, have compiled a list of the ‘favorites’ to land the coveted possession as a broadcaster for one of ESPN’s most popular programs. With Gruden seemingly heading to Oakland, the network will be looking to replace him with someone that can bring the same amount of football knowledge and celebrity status. According to McCarthy, there is a growing number that believe Peyton Manning fits that bill.

“Peyton is everybody’s consensus No. 1 choice. All we have heard for years is that he’s a football savant. He’d be great on TV.”

While the idea of the former Tennessee quarterback, who holds numerous NFL passing records and two Super Bowls with the Colts and the Broncos, heading to the booth next fall is certainly appealing, McCarthy goes on to say that Manning would be far more interested in owning an NFL franchise rather than commentating on the sport itself.

Charles Curtis of USA Today even reported that the idea of Manning making a jump into broadcasting is a ‘pipe dream’ and that he was told by CBS’ Phil Simms last season that he would ‘be surprised if he does it.’ citing that he and other former players who are analysts didn’t have the successful careers that Manning had and therefore ‘have to make a living.’

Still, you have to think that ESPN will at the very least make him an offer, especially since he has a vested interest in returning to football in some capacity beyond playing. Former Dallas quarterback Tony Romo took a similar path after hanging up the cleats and has now been a success after taking over as the lead color analyst for the NFL on CBS this past season.

Manning would definitely be able to give ESPN the right amount of star power combined with his knowledge of the game to make fans’ Monday Night Football experience even better.