Steve Levy got a taste of the “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth last September when he served as the play-by-play commentator for the Denver Broncos-Oakland Raiders game in Week One of the season.
Now Levy, 55, a south Merrick native, one of ESPN’s signature voices and a SportsCenter anchor, is preparing to begin his first season on the “Monday Night Football” stage after he was named the seventh play-by-play voice in the show’s 51-year history.
“It is truly a dream come true,” said Levy, who graduated from Kennedy High School in 1983 and earned a bachelor’s in communications from SUNY Oswego four years later. “I’m still hearing from so many people. I’m very close to two of my Merrick friends, which dates back to the fourth grade. We’re getting a big laugh at remembering [when] I [would] announce our street football games while playing in them way back then, and now I’ll be broadcasting one of the NFL’s most signature franchises.”
Hired by ESPN in 1993 after stints at the MSG Network, WFAN radio and WCBS television, Levy emerged as one of the network’s leading play-by-play commentators for his work on the National Hockey League and college football beats. He will be joined on Monday nights by a couple of familiar faces — analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick. The new broadcast team will debut on Sept. 14 at 10:10 p.m. EST when Tennessee visits Denver.
“Steve, Brian and Louis are trusted voices of the NFL whose knowledge and love of football connects with fans,” said Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content.
Levy and Griese have called more than 60 games together over the past four seasons, ending each season with a televised New Year’s bowl game and a college football playoff semifinal on ESPN Radio. Levy also called college football games from 1999 to 2002.
“Broadcasters work so many hours together; it’s not just the three hours people see on TV,” Levy said. “It’s the meetings, conference calls, Zooms, flights, car rides, breakfast, lunch and dinner, etc. As a result, it would be really difficult to not enjoy each other’s company and do this job well. Brian and I understand each other’s role and comfort zones, and talk a lot about family and life in addition to football. We are both very eager to add Louis to our existing dynamic, and [by] all early indications, he will fit right in.”
Levy, who grew up a devoted New York Jets fan, said he is well aware of the Week Nine assignment at MetLife Stadium when Gang Green will take on the New England Patriots. “I promise to be on my best behavior in the booth,” he said. “This is my job, and I take my work very seriously, and am confident that when the red light goes on that night, I won’t break into the J-E-T-S chant.”
Throughout his ESPN career, Levy has handled a variety of play-by-play assignments, including NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games from 1995 to 2005 and the NCAA Division I men’s hockey “Frozen Four” in 1998 and 1999. He has the distinction of calling the longest televised NHL playoff game in history on May 4, 2000, when the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in five overtimes in Game Four of the Eastern Conference semifinals on ESPN.
“What I remember about the five-OT game was that I was glad I had already experienced a four-OT game in 1996, so I was ready with my energy, cadence and endurance,” Levy said. “Off the ice, I remember sometime in the third OT the old Igloo went totally dry — there was no water or coffee left — and I don’t recall a single kernel of popcorn in the bottom of the basket being available.”
When Levy isn’t in the booth, he acts, making cameo appearances in eight films. In 1999, he played himself in the hockey-themed “Mystery, Alaska.” He has also appeared in “Fever Pitch,” “The Ringer,” “The Game Plan,” “Tooth Fairy,” “Parental Guidance,” “Grudge Match” and “Million Dollar Arm.”