For football fans that prefer their game broadcasts managed by professionals that know their place and are void of arrogance, today is a day for rejoicing. Tony Kornheiser has stepped down from the Monday Night Football broadcast team, as his fear of flight has overcome his desire to ruin the game calls.
To the Kornheiser backers, I'll get it out of the way up front—the man is a highly accomplished sports journalist.
Between the newspaper columns, radio shows, cable TV shows, and millions of dollars he has made by plastering his mug throughout ESPN programming over the years, Kornheiser is a true success story. Who am I to criticize him, right?
I'm a sports fan, that's who.
A sports fan that prefers to leave the play-by-play to the professionals and the color commentary to the experts that have lived the sports they explain to us, and a fan that has no need for that third analyst spot that Kornheiser filled worse than Dennis Miller did years ago.
Monday Night Football had already taken a hit following the exit of Al Michaels from the broadcast crew in 2006, and the decision that same year to allow Kornheiser—a notoriously self-absorbed and pompous sports critic—to pollute the Monday Night telecasts eliminated MNF from the ranks of supposed "must-watch" programming.
A true shame, really, considering the other two-thirds of the MNF team consist of the highly respectable Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski, with the latter constantly having to battle Kornheiser for airtime when it came to color commentary.
Let's face it, no matter how many years someone spends writing and talking about sports, they have no business trying to rival a former Pro Bowl quarterback like "Jaws" on a football broadcast; no more right than I would have trying to steal Emeril Lagasse's thunder on a cooking show because I have eaten a lot of food in my day.
True sports fans just want to watch the game, have it called by a competent play-by-play guy, and explained by a credible color man; we don't need to know about any underlying ironies or a correlation between a city's landmarks and its team's record.
We certainly don't need a third voice in the booth that has an almost alarming obsession with Brett Favre (maybe the aviophobia excuse is just a ruse after all?).
If you think I am being harsh on Kornheiser, I am not alone. He's consistently felt heat for his contribution (or lack of one) to the MNF broadcast since he first joined the crew, and despite the fact that he has made an entire career out of waging his own verbal onslaughts onto others, apparently he can't take the heat so well himself.
When former Washington Post colleague Paul Farhia highlighted Kornheiser's role as being third fiddle on the broadcast team and said he played a similar role that Miller had but "in a bad way," Kornheiser lashed out at Farhia on the Dan Patrick Show, calling him a "two-bit weasel slug," and claimed the Post had backstabbed him for having the nerve to levy criticism in his direction.
Kornheiser's blatant and cocky sense of self-entitlement obviously has him believing it is okay to dish it out without taking it in return; fortunately this year's travel schedule scared him off and has relieved viewers from having to put up with him on Monday nights.
It would have been addition by subtraction; however, the news that the new third man in the booth will be former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden has actually improved the broadcast by leaps and bounds.
Instead of having to simply "deal" with the unnecessary evil Kornheiser's presence represented, now I can look forward to true insight from someone that actually has a clue—and with Gruden, we'll get it in entertaining fashion.
So in that regard, I guess I owe ol' Tony a bit of gratitude for stepping down.
Congrats buddy; you just made Monday nights a whole lot better.
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