Sean McDonough is one of sports television’s most versatile broadcasters. Named the voice of ESPN’s Monday Night Football in 2016 – and also a leading play-by-play commentator on the network’s college basketball coverage, McDonough has covered the World Series, NCAA Final Four, the Olympic Games and all four major golf championships, among other marquee events during his accomplished career.
McDonough, who has been with ESPN since 1989 – with the exception of 1996-99, when he worked exclusively for CBS, is just the fifth person to occupy the play-by-play position since Monday Night Football debuted in 1970, joining broadcasting stalwarts Keith Jackson, Frank Gifford, Al Michaels and Mike Tirico. The 2016 NFL season will be his first with Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden and reporter Lisa Salters.
A longtime voice on ESPN college sports, McDonough works with analyst Doris Burke on ACC Big Monday college basketball games. In 2016, he called the NCAA Final Four (his second), alongside Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas for ESPN International. For many years, McDonough, Bilas and Bill Raftery called Big Monday BIG EAST games for ESPN. Their work included the historic six-overtime Syracuse-UConn BIG EAST Tournament game at Madison Square Garden in 2009. The telecast won the Global Media Award for “Best Live Game or Event” as presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that year.
Before being named to the MNF booth, McDonough worked Saturday afternoon ABC college football games since 2000. In 2015, he had arguably the signature call of the season on the game-winning punt block and touchdown return as time expired in Michigan State’s miraculous victory over arch-rival Michigan. For 2015, Sports Illustrated named McDonough and partner Chris Spielman the Broadcast Team of the Year in the annual SI Media Awards.
McDonough has also voiced ESPN’s Major League Baseball Monday Night Baseball telecasts, served as a host and hole announcer on ESPN’s coverage of the U.S. Open, The Open Championship and other golf events, and he has provided play-by-play on the network for NHL, tennis, the College World Series, and college lacrosse, soccer and hockey. From 2013-15, he also called NFL games for ESPN Radio.
McDonough was the television play-by-play announcer for the Boston Red Sox from 1988-2004, during which time he was honored four times with the New England Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Play-by-Play.
McDonough spent 10 years at CBS Sports and was the lead college football play-by-play announcer from 1997-99. In 1992 and 1993, he and Tim McCarver formed the network’s lead Major League Baseball broadcast team, calling the All-Star Game, the National League Championship Series and the World Series. Those assignments included historic calls, including Joe Carter’s series-ending walk-off home run in game 6 of the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays.
During his decade at CBS, McDonough provided commentary for a diverse array of sporting broadcasts, including men’s and women’s college basketball, NFL, The Masters and PGA Championship, and US Open Tennis. He worked 10 NCAA men’s basketball tournaments, and he contributed to CBS’ coverage of the Olympic Winter Games, calling the bobsled and luge competitions in 1992 and 1994 and ice hockey in 1998.
A native of Boston, McDonough graduated cum laude from Syracuse University in 1984. In May 2007, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College in recognition of his career, community service and personal achievements. He was also the Commencement Speaker at the graduation ceremony.
In 2014, McDonough was named to the Hall of Fame for WAER, Syracuse University’s noncommercial radio station where he began his sports broadcasting career as a student. The Sports Media Center at Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications also honored McDonough in July 2016 with the Marty Glickman Award. Presented annually to a Newhouse alum, “The Marty” recognizes excellence in the field of sports media.
McDonough’s father is the late Will McDonough, the legendary Boston Globe sportswriter who worked for NBC and CBS Sports. He also has two brothers with prominent roles in professional sports – Terry, vice president, player personnel for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and Ryan, general manager of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
In 2012, McDonough was diagnosed with Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SCDS), a rare condition that required surgery to repair a hole in the bone near his left ear. After a successful procedure and recovery, McDonough continues to raise awareness for SCDS.
McDonough is president of the Sean McDonough Charitable Foundation, which has given nearly $3 million to 129 children’s charities throughout Massachusetts.