Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday Night Football on ESPN made its debut last night. And Mr. Tony made it all the way through the game without a nap.

Duh-Duh-Duh-Duuuunnn! Football is almost here and if you haven’t heard the news Monday Night Football is now on ESPN. The first official broadcast is a few weeks away, but last night there was a broadcast for one of those sham exhibition games and we had the debut of the new three man MNF booth. Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, and Tony Kornheiser are manning the booth this season and besides one practice game, last night was the first night they were ever in a booth. That had to be a little awkward.

Perhaps the biggest news about MNF and its move from ABC to ESPN has been the inclusion of longtime sports columnist and Pardon the Interruption host Tony Kornheiser in the broadcast booth. Many thought that adding a newspaper guy to the booth would bring it down. You need another jock up there to help the fan understand exactly what is going on. If two of the three broadcast guys have never played professional football, then how will the viewers understand the action on the field?

I find most of those complaints baseless and very insulting to the average fan. I think the average football fan knows more than former players, who are now broadcasters, think they do. Football is not something that you have to play professionally to understand or enjoy. The only thing the average viewer doesn’t know about pro football is how it feels, but I can guess that most of it hurts. I think the world will survive a three man booth with only one former pro. My problem is that the one former pro is Theismann. He is not exactly my favorite color man, but I am sure I could learn to like him.

I have always been a Kornheiser man and ESPN has done something right because there is no way I would ever watch a preseason NFL football game, Monday night or no. But I did last night. I wanted to hear Mr. Tony and see how things would go in the booth. I only got to watch about a quarter of the game due to 30-45 minute power outages and boredom because it is fake football, but I thought the broadcast team did a good job. Joe and Tony seemed to play well off each other and I can only see them getting better as the season goes on and they get more comfortable. The thing that I look forward to most is the humor the Kornheiser will bring to the broadcast. Here is an example from last night’s game from the Yahoo piece I have linked.

Both Theismann and Kornheiser quickly delved into the "ugly past" of the Minnesota Vikings, who were playing the Oakland Raiders, with Kornheiser pointedly talking about how the Vikings were "the most scandal-plagued team in the entire NFL last year."

"I won't go through the whole laundry list, but the sex-boat thing, that was a show-stopper. As they say on `Seinfeld' — `That's gold, Jerry. That's gold.'"

I just hope that the Tuesday Morning Monday Night Quarterbacks are not too hard on them. Let them gel and learn about each other before you deem this a failure. I think things will work out fine and Mr. Tony will only get better.

The other big change on last night’s game, a change that caused a few hundred people to email Colin Cowherd about, was the new little retro scoreboard that was placed in the bottom center of the screen. Cowherd said 85% of the email about MNF was hate for the new scoreboard. I know Bratch noticed it and hated it. I on the other hand liked it. It wasn’t too big, and it was simple and didn’t clutter the screen like most of the other scoreboards you see. Plus there was no scrolling scroller that kept feeding me info at the top or bottom of the screen. I give that new scoreboard a definite thumbs up. I am a casual/average football fan and I do not want to spend my time reading a scroller that is feeding me info on other things that I really could care less about.

There, I have said my piece about the “new” Monday Night Football and I look forward to many weeks of hearing Mr. Tony, the other guys, eh, who cares. As far as I am concerned it’s all about Tony, Tony.

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