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How ESPN successfully launched the ‘MNF’ with Brian Baumgartner and Bret Michaels

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ESPN’s creative content unit didn’t have to do any arm-twisting to get actor Brian Baumgartner to star in the intro to the Los Angeles Rams-Green Bay Packers “It Doesn’t Get Better Than This” about “Monday Night Football.”

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All they had to do was ask.

The actor who is best known for playing Kevin Malone in “The Office” has been all about humorously portraying himself as a Hollywood celebrity who is also a huge fan of the Packers. Maybe because it wasn’t very stretched.

“MNF,” said Amanda Paschal, product manager for ESPN’s Creative Content unit, which comes with the opening of every game.

“He’s a Packer freak and he brought his heart and soul to this and was just as willing to do anything.”

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Viewers see him for the first time in the two-minute introduction as he lavishly lounging in his pool as he bemoans how difficult it is to live in sunny Los Angeles as a Packers fan when all he really wants is frozen tundra and Lambo Lips and 80,000 cheese people losing their minds” in Lambeau Field.

Enter Bret Michaels.

Just in time for the Rams-Packers “MNF” game, hero Poison shows up at the Baumgartner house with a bunch of whipped Packers and Rams aficionados for an epic watch party complete with ice machine.

Pascal said, “We thought there was no better party anthem than ‘Nothin’ But a Good Time’ (by Poison).” Bret Michaels, known for his concerts, known for the energy he brings, the passion, we were like, “Well, what if he brings the gig to Brian Baumgartner?”

Getting Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to immediately appear on a video call was a bonus.

Pascal said the creative content unit tries to integrate players when possible, but it can be challenging given their schedules during the season. She said they were inspired to see if they could finish 12th in the event after scrolling through Baumgartner’s Instagram feed and seeing a photo of him with Rodgers.

The two are best friends in real life. Baumgartner first met Rodgers at the famous American Century Championship golf tournament in 2008 in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada, when he was sitting at a blackjack table and the man next to him told him he was a huge fan.

“Turns out it was Aaron Rodgers. I had no idea who he was. No clue. This summer before he became a starter,” Baumgartner told People Now in 2020. “I was like, ‘Oh, you’re the Cal guy who’s never going to play because of Brett. Favre, right?” And we have been very good friends since then.”

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