MNF on ESPN
POSTED 12:42 a.m. EDT, August 23, 2006
MNF ON ESPN
We gave the Boys in Bristol a pass on the first installment of the new Monday Night Football, for a variety of reasons.
Primarily, we knew that we had a deal in the hopper with NBC, and we didn't want to respond to 500 e-mails once the ads went up suggesting that we took shots at the ESPN coverage as a gratuity to NBC.
So now that they had a chance to get their feet wet with the Raiders-Vikings game on August 14, we watched closely the Monday nighter in Shreveport between the Cowboys and the Saints.
And here are ten takes on what we saw on MNF on ESPN on ESPN.
(As to the redundancy, we figure that if sports on ABC will now be known as "ESPN on ABC", the term "ESPN" standing alone might be a tad vague.)
Tony Is Double Dipping.
We've got no problem with a guy working multiple jobs.
We always respect the willingness of a guy (or gal) to roll up the sleeves and grind it out.
But we've got a problem with folks cutting corners, even if they're doing so while juggling multiple balls.
Case in point:
Tony Kornheiser continues to write columns for the Washington Post (though he won't be doing so for much longer if he continues to get his combover in a knot whenever someone from his own paper dares to suggest that he's not the next Cosell) as he works for MNF and as he continues to shoot the sh-t for 30 minutes or so a day with Mike Wilbon on PTI.
We've yet to notice any dropoff on PTI, since it really doesn't take much prep or effort to shoot the sh-t for 30 minutes or so a day about issues that you're following anyway in connection with your writing gig, and because you genuinely like reading about sports.
But his Post columns are Indonesia awful now that he's spending his time rolling around the U.S. on a custom bus.
Why "Indonesia awful"?
Because unless Kornheiser is trying to adjectify the name of the South Asian nation, then he's simply using his Post columns as content for seemingly extemporaneous commentary from the MNF booth.
Since we're still giving Korny the benefit of the doubt, we'll assume that, by using the term "Indonesia hot" both in Monday's column and in the first few minutes of Monday night's broadcast, Tony is merely trying to develop momentum for his first effort to add some new terms to the American lexicon.
Tony Goes L.T. On Joey Sunshine.
One of the things we like about Kornheiser is that he won't sit on his hands, thumbs pointed north, while Joey Sunshine heaps superlatives on anyone whose image is on the television screen.
Instead, Kornheiser has shown a willingness to verbally pounce on Theismann, forcing him to provide details and specifics as he waxes in generalities about how every guy in every game is the greatest player ever at his position.
And it's obvious that Theismann isn't accustomed to being called upon to back up his glowing accounts of various players with, you know, facts and reasons.
Maybe, just maybe, Kornheiser's willingness to press Theismann for more data will prompt him either to do some more homework -- or to put the kneepads back in the closet.
Our guess is that Theismann will opt to soften his approach.
Then again, if he's not telling the world how great someone is, what in the hell will he have to say?
Here's some of the things he won't be saying:
he won't be saying what a great quarterback the starter is in the first half of a preseason game, only to say how great the backup is in the second half; he won't be offering up firm guarantees that Terrell Owens will never be a problem at any point during his career in Dallas; and he won't be proclaiming that the head coach of a team "doesn't leave any stone unturned" when the coach welcomes rainy conditions in a preseason game so that he can see how his guys will play with a wet ball.
Suzy Sunshine Is On The Air.
Perhaps we'd never noticed this before because we were so busy gagging over the extent to which the old Sunday night crew on ESPN constantly went on and on about the positives of each and every player; regardless, it's now clear to us that sideline reporter Suzy Kolber is just as bad as Joey Sunshine when it comes to making every player she talks about sound like a dude who's headed for Canton on the first ballot.
We're starting to think that the car commercial she did in the offseason confused her as to her role.
She's not a sideline spokesperson; she's a sideline reporter.
Nevertheless, every blurb she offers is delivered in that perky "this guy is great and I love America!" style, with emphasis only on positive observations and nary a hint of anything remotely controversial.
As to quarterback Drew Brees, for example, Kolber gushed that New Orleans was Brees' "calling" and that the chance to sign with the Saints was a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for him.
Of course, she didn't bother to mention the fact that Brees was ping-ponging between the Saints and the Fins until his financial demands scared Miami away from the table.
But that might have undermined the manufactured melodrama.
She also steered clear of that $12 million option bonus due to Brees in 2007, which makes his contract something other than a lifetime arrangement.
Almost as troubling as her cheerleading is the fact that Kolber and/or the producers allowed her to spout off quotes from Brees that were repeated verbatim by the quarterback in video clips played later in the half.
Memo to Suzy -- if all you're going to do is parrot back the content of taped interviews that are going to be on the air anyway, you're only fueling the argument that sideline reporters (especially two of them for one game) aren't necessary.
The Thing At The Bottom Has Got To Go.
Of all of the e-mails we've received over the past week or so regarding the new Monday night effort, the most common criticism has been directed at the thing at the bottom of the screen that shows the time and score.
It's another example, in our view, of the desire to be different and innovative superseding more practical concerns, like whether or not the thing is a complete and total distraction.
It has to go.
Every other network puts the information at the top of the screen or the bottom of the screen for a damn good reason; it doesn't detract from, you know, the viewing of the game.
One last thing -- we're really not impressed by the swanky little techno gadgets, like the scoring change that scrolls through the various numbers instead of jumping straight from "0" to "6".
It's unnecessary window dressing that adds absolutely nothing to the product.
Focusing for a minute (and no longer) on the game itself, the touchdown catch by Terry Glenn was one of the best receptions we've ever seen.
Our initial reaction?
"Too damn bad it's only the preseason."
Our second reaction?
Maybe with a No. 1 wideout like Glenn on the roster Owens is a luxury that coach Bill Parcells doesn't really need, and maybe the morale boost to the team resulting from the lancing of the bike-riding boil will solve more problems than it causes.
If Glenn's impressive one-hander helps the powers-that-be conclude that they can survive and thrive without Owens, the irony will be that the catch was made at the expense of cornerback Mike McKenzie, who shares an agent with T.O.
Mike Tirico Is Whiter Than Dick Cheney.
After Terry Glenn's head-turning touchdown, play-by-play man Mike Tirico stepped outside of his self-described "be heard but not seen" role with a prediction as to Terrell Owens' possible response to the play.
"I want me some of that," Tirico says, in a voice that sounds like a white guy doing a bad impression of a black guy doing a bad impression of a white guy doing a bad impression of a black guy.
We're not suggesting that Tirico should deliver his lines in "street."
But his inability to conjure something in the same zip code as to how Owens would say it makes us wonder whether Tirico has been raiding C. Thomas Howell's medicine chest, circa 1986.
Is Randy Mueller Still Getting A Check?
There's a commercial that ESPN has been playing for the past couple of weeks regarding its fantasy football coverage.
It showed up again a few times during Monday night's broadcast.
At one point, a list of ESPN's "Insiders" is displayed on the right side of the screen.
The list includes, among others, the name "Randy Mueller."
The only problem?
He left ESPN more than a year ago to become the G.M. of the Dolphins.
Curious Timing For Invincible Release.
We can't wait to see the new movie Invincible.
Hell, we already get the goose bumps while viewing the trailer, which was shown during the Monday night broadcast, due in part to the fact that the company that is distributing the movie also owns ESPN.
But we've noticed something odd.
Since the ticket sales generated by a movie's opening weekend typically are viewed in industry circles as evidence of whether the movie initially is labeled a success, who in the hell decided that a film about a guy who played for the Philadelphia Eagles would open on the same day that the Philadelphia Eagles play a nationally-televised home game against the defending Super Bowl champs?
It'd be different if the company that made the movie didn't own the company that is broadcasting the game, and if the movie didn't constitute a subtle two-hour commercial for the NFL, and for the Eagles.
Someone in this web of highly-paid execs surely was in a position to better control either the release date of the film or the scheduling of the Eagles' game for the third weekend of the preseason.
The easiest solution?
Flip-flop the Friday night ESPN Steelers-Eagles game and the Monday night Packers-Bengals game.
Kornheiser Is a Very Good Interviewer.
Though we still haven't warmed up to Tony Kornheiser's on-air shtick, we're impressed by the interrogation skills that he demonstrated during a second-half visit by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to the booth.
Kornheiser was tough but fair, asking the hard questions without pulling a Bryant Gumbel.
And the session prompted Jones to offer up a candid slice of self-deprecation, when he admitted to having second thoughts regarding his decision to pass on Randy Moss in the 1998 draft.
"There were times when I regretted not having Randy Moss," Jones said.
"Every time we played him that he was on the field."
Hey, maybe Kornheiser should be a sideline reporter, and Joey Sunshine and Suzy Kolber can try to one-up each other with exaggerated compliments of players and coaches until one of them dies of terminal phoniness.
Monday Night No Longer Feels Special.
Our ultimate assessment of ESPN's $1.1 billion annual investment in the NFL is that Monday Night Football no longer has the "feel" to it that it had for 35 years on ABC.
But maybe we're just showing our age; after all, we grew up in an era with three channels.
If you'd asked us in 1975 for a definition of the term "cable TV", the answer likely would have been "uh . . . a TV made out of cable?"
So from our perspective a four-letter network is still a cut below ABC, NBC, and CBS.
Thus, MNF is no longer a big deal to us.
It doesn't help matters that NBC scored a far superior slate of games and flexible scheduling, or that NBC has landed the guys who covered MNF on ABC for Sunday nights.
As we said months before the NBC ads showed up in the banner of this page, Sunday night is the new Monday night -- and Monday night is the new Sunday night.
Re: MNF on ESPN
i love PTI that was like a slap in the face!
Re: MNF on ESPN
LOL LOL LOL
Re: MNF on ESPN
I loved PTI but I never really liked Kornheiser.
He never seems to know what he is talking about during the games.
The were talking about Bouman, and he like "I have never rheard of him."
WOW! He carried us for like 4 games a couple years ago.
He just seems to be yeah what he said.
Re: MNF on ESPN
Here in Tonga, it costs about $1200 to have television. Needless to say, if I need to see TV, I go to the bar. Luckily, I get to see ESPN MNF every tuesday afternoon as well as NFL LIVE! and Sportscenter. So, I really can't be picky on the new crew (except Suzy. she sucks).
I will be wearing my Jersey for the MNF reg season opener of Vikes and Rediskins, even though it turns me into a human sweatbox.
Re: MNF on ESPN
Is Kornhole really this stupid?
It looks like a 7th grader wrote that column.
I was thinking the same thing as Florio mentioned, Sunday Night Football will replace MNF as the big game...especially with the commentators ESPN is throwing at us.