ESPN rules analyst Gerry Austin has been notably absent from the Monday Night Football booth. Football Zebras has learned that Austin was, in fact, hospitalized with an undisclosed illness. During the 49ers-Rams telecast, announcers Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden sent their best wishes, and Tirico said that Austin is now home recovering.
Gerry’s been under the weather, battling an illness; he’s back at home now. We just want to say hello to Gerry, we’re thinking of you. Trust me, we miss you, because Jon gets mad at me with every call.
ESPN spokesman Bill Hofheimer added the following to us in a statement:
Gerry is recovering and we hope he will be able to return to Monday Night Football before the end of the season. We are all wishing him the best. He is one of the most well-liked members of our crew.
Austin is a former NFL referee, and currently the coordinator of officials for Conference USA. Austin also runs a highly regarded officiating clinic.
We have also learned that former NFL officiating supervisor and official Jim Daopoulos will be brought in to assist the production crew on rules interpretations, beginning with tonight’s game in Dallas. His role, however, will not be on air, and he will remain with the production team until Austin is ready to return.
Daopoulos has contributed to the periodic Football Zebras Roundtable feature and provides commentary for several sports radio programs throughout the week.
Image: ESPN Front Row