The failed three-year Tony Kornheiser Experiment on Monday Night Football has come to a merciful close, which is ESPN’s minor atonement for adding Matt Millen to their pregame theatrics. When Kornheiser was brought in, he was hailed for, if nothing else, not being Joe Theismann, but he turned out to be just as bad, if not worse. At the time, TK had run a tremendously entertaining radio show, even if it belabored American Idol to the point of absurdity. Whereas that radio show was smooth and engaging, despite the constant Idol banter, he was overly gimmicky on MNF, always playing up ESPN-approved storylines and star players regardless of what transpired on the field. He stuck to oft-repeated speculation on what sportswriters were working on in their “column” about the game, as though he were a displaced journalism professor who just happened to be sitting in on a TV show for a lark. Favre became the analog to radio show’s insistence of Idol talk. How many times did he try to shoehorn Brittfar’s name into the commentary during the MNF game with the Packers this past year? Even Tirico had to tamp it down at one point. If it weren’t for PK, he’d be the Jackie Harvey of sports.
So who will carry the mantle of color commentary on the second tier weekly primetime game? None other than Jon Gruden, who will most assuredly be stilted and awful, weighing down the broadcast with even more platitudes and cliches. How a coach months removed from the sideline is supposed to counterbalance the overly analytical Jaws and the good play-by-play straight man Mike Tirico isn’t clear, though I don’t see Gruden being up to the task. WHITHER GUS JOHNSON!? CAN’T HAVE TWO BLACK GUYS IN THE BOOTH!? IS THAT IT!?
So, in the end, the commentary will suck, but at least won’t call as much attention to its awfulness through braying antics and dumb pandering to ESPN talking points. And, at the very least this might lead to a Jennifer Tilly cameo in the booth at some point.