Ezekiel Elliott and ESPN’s Monday Night Football were a good fit even before the Dallas Cowboys rookie had gained a yard in the National Football League.
The Cowboys (12-2) host Detroit (9-5) on Monday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Elliott is featured in the opening theme for Monday Night Football, whose concept is to showcase the legends, current stars and future stars of MNF.
When gathering some of the top future names in the league for the opening, ESPN went with Elliott, the fourth overall pick, and Jared Goff, the top overall pick of the Los Angeles Rams.
“We knew he was a great player at Ohio State,” said Jay Rothman, the lead producer of ESPN’s Monday Night Football and the popular Gruden’s QB Camp series. “We recruited a few more of the rookie class, but they just couldn’t make it. Zeke was kind enough to agree to join us.”
Elliott, who is known for some of his eye-catching attire, wears a red suit in the clip. The open features an updated version of MNF’s iconic musical theme “Heavy Action.” It has a red carpet arrival backdrop with paparazzi and adoring fans.
The filming was in July.
Six months later, Elliott has become the leading rusher in the NFL and was voted to the Pro Bowl.
“We’re happy for him to be having the kind of year that he’s having. Happy for the Cowboys fans,” Rothman said. “Obviously, Zeke was at the top of our rookie draft class in terms of recruiting him for the opener.”
Rothman said ESPN shot four hours of footage. They have four versions of the open.
“It’s no more or no less just to keep it fresh and rotate it around. The concept is the same. The players don’t change,” Rothman said. “It’s just to add variety from a week to week basis so there’s no redundancy. Maybe that’s overblown because it only airs 16 times. It might not matter, but we like to mix it up.”
ESPN had their eyes on a few other Cowboys players, but they weren’t available.
“Dez (Bryant) and Jason (Witten) and Tony (Romo) at the time and others. Some couldn’t participate because of schedule conflicts. Some chose not to,” Rothman said.
Elliott and Dak Prescott will be featured during the Monday Night Countdown pre-game show. They will discuss their rookie seasons in a conversation with ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson, also a former Dallas Cowboy.