The McDonough brothers (from left), Terry, Ryan and Sean (Photo courtesy Phoenix Suns).
It was the opening night of the draft, about an hour before the picks began, and Terry McDonough saw he had a text from his brother, Sean.
The Cardinals' vice president of player personnel had known that Sean was a candidate for play-by-play voice of ESPN's "Monday Night Football" – "I thought he had a good chance," Terry said – and confirmation was staring at him from his screen.
"I know you're busy with more important things right now but I just wanted to let you know they are offering the job and I'm
going to take it," Sean texted his brother.
The news had impact. About a minute later, Sean recounted this week during a media conference call, Terry sent Sean a selfie from the draft room and told his brother he had to get up from the table because he was fighting back tears.
"Emotions were up (that night) because of the draft," Terry said. "But 'Monday Night Football,' if that's not the top of the profession, it's pretty close to it. He's worked so hard for so long, and now he's back on top."
It was an emotional night for both brothers. Their father, Will McDonough, was a long-time NFL writer for the Boston Globe and pioneered the role of writer-as-television-information-man when he appeared on NBC in the early 1990s doling out NFL tidbits.
Even when Sean McDonough was trying to talk about his new gig Monday, more than a week after texting his brother, he had to pause multiple times as he choked up.
In the aftermath of the Robert Nkemdiche pick and rest of the draft, Terry said he celebrated Sean's move quietly, waiting for the official announcement.
Sean said he believed Terry's near-tears draft night was in part "not just because he was so happy for me but because I think he
was thinking how cool my Dad would think this is and how proud he would be."
Terry said his emotions were driven in pride of Sean's move back to such a big assignment. Terry noted that his older brother had called World Series games in 1992 and 1993 and had been the voice of their hometown Red Sox through 2004 before the team moved on.
Sean, who has been with ESPN since 2000, still worked some high-profile events but none quite like the full-time "MNF" play-by-play gig.
Sean said he's learned not to take anything for granted.
"Even though I had opportunities at a young age, there is no guarantee they will keep coming to you," said Sean, who is 53. "There are very few of these kinds of jobs."
The Cardinals play on "Monday Night Football" once this season, on Oct. 17 against the New York Jets and head coach Todd Bowles at University of Phoenix Stadium. That should serve as a reunion of three McDonough brothers – younger brother Ryan is the General Manager of the NBA's Phoenix Suns.
In the meantime, Sean McDonough will now spend his full-time job in the NFL, as Terry already was, and how their father Will lived his life.
"Terry is great at what he does and I have no doubt he will be a general manager in the NFL soon, if that is what he wants to do," Sean said. "He is in a fantastic situation in Arizona right now. Between my Dad and Terry, the McDonough family has been a part of the NFL since 1960. I am excited and honored to continue our family's association with the NFL."
The Cardinals continue their Phase 2 on-field work