How ESPN is taking XFL TV access to unprecedented level

ESPN’s coverage of the XFL will be led by big names such as Steve Levy and Pat McAfee, but what could stand out just as much is the increased television access for the league that begins in February.

ESPN will have a top team of Levy and former Jet Greg McElroy in the booth, joined by Tom Luginbill as a sideline analyst and Dianna Russini as a reporter. They will do the Saturday ABC games.

On Sunday on ABC, play-by-player Tom Hart will be joined by Joey Galloway and McAfee. McAfee, a rising star at ESPN, will be on the sideline, where there will be a lot of access.

“[McAfee] feels like a natural with the XFL,” Lee Fitting, ESPN’s senior vice president of production, told The Post. “He feels like a natural down on the field for us. With the XFL, we are really pushing the access piece and the in-game access piece. Live interviews on the sideline.

“The reporters are going to have some freedom. You put those thoughts together then why not Pat? He’s going to be a natural down there and we are going to give him a little bit of a longer leash to operate.”

As The Post previously reported, ESPN originally thought Dan Orlovsky, another football analyst on the rise, would be part of the first team.

“At the end of the day, it just became too much for him,” Fitting said. “It just didn’t fit in the nuttiness of his year.”

No matter the teams, the broadcasts will be different than anything in college or pro football now.

“This isn’t all ironed out yet,” Fitting said. “We are hoping to have some type of in-game communication either with coaches and players that aren’t in the game. One of the goals is, I’m making this up: A quarterback and receiver comes off and defense comes on. We would love to have a quick two-way with the announcers and the players who are now not in the game.

“There are going to be tons of players with mics on. There are going to be helmet cams. We will be able to listen in on coach-to-coach and coach-to-player audio in their helmet systems and spin that around as quickly as we can. We think access and audio is where we can make a difference.”

Maybe we will even hear about more “ghosts.” Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, now famously, said that during a recent Monday night game. The sound ESPN used, it should be noted, was approved by NFL Films.

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