ESPN sideline reporter Sergio Dipp steals the show in his 'MNF' debut

Sergio Dipp? You watch him on the screen. There he was, on ESPN, having the time of his life.

Yet, in his own postmortem, he observed that from “some people’s perspective, it all went wrong.”

Some people?

Beth Mowins became the first woman to call a network NFL telecast in nearly 30 years on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” and in one 30-second report from the sideline, Dipp stole the show.

Capsule review: Mowins was solid calling the Chargers-Broncos action. Former NFL coach Rex Ryan, her rookie analyst, was not ready even for the late-night slot accorded the second game of this opening-week doubleheader. And Dipp was unforgettable -- but clearly not in the way he hoped.

Dipp was trying to say ... something.

It likely had something to do with this being the first time two African-Americans were making their NFL coaching debut in the same game, thanks to the Broncos’ Vance Joseph and the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn.
It did not come out right.

“Hopefully I’ll have another chance,” Dipp said in a late-night postgame video on Twitter.

A transcript of Dipp’s brief sideline dispatch doesn’t quite do it justice. One imagines that poor, hapless college sportscaster whose “Boom goes the dynamite!” video went viral some years ago watching at home, quietly nodding in a knowing, sympathetic way.

“Beth, Coach, it’s a pleasure to be with you guys, here on the field, from up close, just watching coach Vance Joseph from here,” Dipp said. “You watch him now on the screen.”

Something kicked in for Dipp at that point. He seemed to become more enthusiastic, more confident as he spoke of Joseph. It remained hard to follow.

“His diversity and his background is helping him a lot tonight,” Dipp said of Joseph, excitement seeming to trump fear. “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.”

As a moment of giddy panicked fear and adrenaline frozen in time, clearly not anyone’s best look, the bit had the feel of one of those photos that theme parks try to sell people as they get off a roller coaster.

It’s open to speculation why ESPN put Dipp, a bilingual 29-year-old from Baja, Calif., who has been with ESPN Deportes since 2013, in the awkward position of trying to do double duty with the network’s Spanish-language telecast. ESPN declined to comment.

Dipp will continue covering the NFL and soccer for ESPN Deportes. If he were to get another NFL sideline assignment, it almost certainly wouldn’t be until 2018 at the earlier because this was the only doubleheader ESPN has scheduled this season.

Barring something unexpected, Lisa Salters will continue in that role on the English-language editions of “MNF” and John Sutcliffe will handle the job for ESPN Deportes as they did in Monday's Saints-Vikings doubleheader opener.

Dipp initially seemed unshaken by things going awry and the broad range of social media comments he withstood, appearing to deflect the barrage with humor.

But a couple of hours after the game, he recorded a brief video and posted it to Twitter, along with the message: “Thank you … And God bless America.”

Dipp in the video seemed a bit rattled and spoke of trying “to digest what just happened to a 29-year-old Mexican guy like me” on “the biggest stage possible.”

Occasionally glancing down at what likely were notes, Dipp pointed out the Chargers-Broncos game coincided with the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. He talked about being from Mexicali, Mexico, and how in at the time of the attacks in 2001, he was a student in Calexico, Calif., “growing up in the American environment as a minority, a minority like head coaches Vance Joseph and Anthony Lynn.”

As much as Dipp might have been concerned about how his career might be affected by this one report — ESPN never returned to him for more sideline reports on its English-language telecast — he also sought to ensure no one misunderstood his intent.

“What I wanted to do was show some respect, making my debut as a minority on American national TV, the biggest stage out there, on the most heartfelt day in this great country made up by immigrants and, on some people’s perspective, it all went wrong,” Dipp said in the video.

“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’ll make the most out of it.”

He’s already a household name, thanks to Monday’s telecast. Presumably Dipp wants something more.

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