Dave's Sports Views

Analysis, humor and opinion on the sports world

Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Monday Night Fiasco

One of my close friends has held out without cable television for many years, but told me that when ESPN acquired Monday Night Football he would need to reconsider. He might now want to re-reconsider.

Today the network announced its new Monday night team. Mike Tirico will call play-by-play and be joined in the booth by Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser. This after Al Michaels reportedly is set to leave the Disney television family to join NBC and former MNF partner John Madden on Sunday nights. This ensures that ESPN's coverage of the NFL will continue to be unwatchable.

Now obviously ESPN has to have egg on its face for calling in what essentially is its B-team. But the network had a perfect out. Just reunite the Sunday Night Football group that has worked together for several years. Don't get me wrong -- Mike Patrick, Paul Maguire and Joe Theismann were the most annoying trio since the Bee Gees. A typical exchange between them often went like this:

Patrick: "First and 10, Green Bay. Here's Favre. Favre! Look at him! Avoids the rush! And he runs for a ONE YARD GAIN!!!!!! What an effort!"
Theismann: "Favre is tough! Did you see him take that hit by the lineman, whatever his name is? He took that hit like a man!"
Maguire: "Let me tell you about Brett Favre. This guy can play. He's 0-for-20 with five interceptions tonight, but that doesn't speak to the fact that he's a great quarterback!"
Theismann: "Not a great quarterback, Paul. The greatest quarterback who ever lived!"
Maguire: "He's everything that's right about this game! I think there was a flag on that play, but never mind. We haven't talked enough about Favre tonight."
Patrick: "Here comes Green Bay again, down 55-0 with 35 seconds left in the game. Favre takes them to the line. With him in there, this game is far from over!"

But at least that group had chemistry, if I can use that word loosely. Now we have Tirico, who like Patrick has a proclivity for overreacting to every play, calling the action. Theismann will continue to talk about a variety of subjects, some of which make sense. And Kornheiser, a knowledgeable sports guy but a hire that reeks of the Dennis Miller decision, will try to add his humor to the mix. It will be three guys screaming over each other, like a sports version of The McLaughlin Group.

Here's another thing: Did ESPN really believe Michaels would want to work with Theismann in the first place? Michaels is pickier than 5-year-old with a plate of vegetables, and Theismann never seemed like a match for a guy who has been working with the dean of football analysts. This partnership was doomed from the start, and ESPN should have seen it coming.

On the flip side, Mike Breen, who will take Michaels' place as lead NBA play-by-play man, is a solid, polished veteran who should mesh well with Hubie Brown, one of my favorite sports analysts. (I love to hear him talk about the Pistons' strength at "the forward position.") My only question is: Can they do NFL, too?



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