When is enough enough?
Everyone who watches Monday Night Football is aware of Tony Kornheiser’s propensity to take the biggest NFL headline, and become fixated upon it. Last year, he would not stop talking about Michael Vick whenever that storyline was at least somewhat relevant (and sometimes, even when it wasn’t).
In this season’s Monday night opener, Vikings at Packers, TK talked exclusively about Brett Favre. In fact, Tony talked about Favre so much that his co-announcer, Mike Tricio, was forced to ask him to not mention the name of the former Packers’ quarterback anymore.
Last night’s game featured a great match up between two rivals, both with high hopes for the season – ideally, that would have been enough plot for Kornheiser. Surely he wouldn’t need to spend a significant amount of time discussing a story that had already come and gone, but no, you’d be mistaken.
After Terrell Owens’ first touchdown, Kornheiser spent the next five to ten minutes discussing the painfully-tired ‘TO and Donovan McNabb’ saga. Can’t we move on from this, Tony? I was done with it shortly after it first surfaced, back in 2006. Now here it is, two years later, and you find a way to bring it up during what was one of the greatest Monday Night Football games ever.
It pains me to dislike Kornheiser so much as a MNF announcer. I grew up reading his columns in the Washington Post, and he is obviously great with Michael Wilbon on Pardon the Interruption because of their rapport. But as a booth announcer, he simply doesn’t work. They wanted Kornheiser for his humor, but due to the failed Dennis Miller experiment they felt they needed a guy who also worked in sports. Kornheiser may indeed work in sports, but he doesn’t know it well enough to be in the booth.
MNF desperately wants the Kornheiser experiment to work, as they seem convinced that a three-man booth is their best option. Perhaps this is because of their history with various tripod booths – most famously, Cosell, Gifford and Meredith – but the current announcing team is closer to Michaels, Fouts, and Miller. If ESPN is set on having three announcers, they should learn from the NBA-team over at ABC: Mike Breem, Marc Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy.
Van Gundy serves as "the funny guy,” but doesn't act like the jokes are forced, and he also brings an in-depth knowledge of the game. Kornheiser knows he is supposed to be humorous, but he has no material. The only topic that he brings up each week is the most obvious, played-out story. It comes off as neither funny nor informed – just annoying.
Will MNF wise up and listen to its critics this off-season? If its ratings continue to climb, it will be tough for ESPN to justify making any changes to the program, announcers included. It won't happen this season, that's for sure, and with the Jets making an appearance on Monday night just six days from now, I suppose we are in for another three hours of Tony talking about how Brett Favre is continuing his gun-slinging ways on a new team. Until ESPN comes up with a solution, I've got my own: mute the TV.