During Monday’s Broncos-Chargers game, Beth Mowins made history as the first woman in 30 years to do play-by-play for an NFL regular season game. At her side was Rex Ryan, making his much-anticipated transition from chatty football coach to TV football analyst.
In addition, the game featured, for the first time, two African Americans making their NFL head coaching debuts in the same contest. But as the night wore on, few observers wanted to talk about Vance Joseph and Anthony Lynn, or Mowins and Ryan.
No, it was all about Sergio Dipp.
And just who, exactly, is Sergio Dipp? He’s the young man who made a memorably awkward debut as an “MNF” sideline reporter when Mowins threw it to him in the first quarter for a quick note on Joseph.
“Folks, it’s a pleasure to be with you guys, here on the field, from up close, just watching Coach Vance Joseph from here, you watch him now on the screen,” Dipp said haltingly. After that somewhat rough start, he gathered momentum, saying with more confidence as ESPN switched to a shot of Joseph, “His diversity and his background is helping him a lot tonight. Quarterback at Colorado, defensive back in the NFL, and here he is, having the time of his life this night, making his head coaching debut.”
Dipp set off an Internet flurry that he handled good-naturedly but later felt the need to explain. Dipp, who was born in Mexicali in Baja California, clarified in a video that he “meant no disrespect,” adding that he wanted to “show some love to these historical head coaches” on what was “the most heartfelt day in this great country,” the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“Growing up in the American environment as a minority, a minority like head coaches Vance Joseph and Anthony Lynn,” he said. “So what I wanted to do was show some respect, making my debut as a minority on American national TV, the biggest show out there, on the most heartfelt day in this great country made up by immigrants and [from] some people’s perspective, it all went wrong. But I truly meant no disrespect. Because all I wanted to do was to show some love to these two historical head coaches. Hopefully I’ll have another chance and be sure I make the most out of it.”
The reaction, as he noticed on social media, was pretty intense.
Dipp’s initial hesitation sparked plenty of “Boom goes the dynamite!” comments online. Others began lamenting the fact that Dipp was apparently not allowed back on the air.
Dipp was a newcomer to “MNF,” but he has been with ESPN since 2013, albeit largely with the network’s Spanish-language channel, ESPN Deportes. Dipp, 29, has mostly tweeted in Spanish, but he used English to show during the game that he was well aware of his sudden renown, and taking it in stride.
As for the duo high above the field in ESPN’s broadcasting booth, the Internet’s consensus seemed to be that Mowins acquitted herself very well. Regarding Ryan, well, his TV debut only served to increase admiration for Mowins.