Media watch: Theismann turning out to be a bad fit on Monday Night

My dad mentioned to me yesterday that he can't stand the new Monday Night Football broadcast crew of Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser. I agreed that it just doesn't seem to be working yet, and as I'm sitting here watching the Saints thump the Falcons, I haven't been dissuaded.

His main issue is with Tirico, who I think actually is doing a pretty decent job making the transition to the NFL. Gone is the propensity to shout that he (appropriately) displayed on his college broadcasts; in is an understated style that has the more professional feel appropriate for a professional game. I think he'll continue to get better, especially when he realizes that it's OK to open up the vocal cords when a big play does happen. (There was a fabulous play by Michael Vick where he eluded three rushers only to flip a pass to his fullback to pick up a first down; Tirico seemed unimpressed.)

My main issue is with Theismann. His egomaniacal style fit pretty well in ESPN's old Sunday night crew with Mike Patrick and Paul Maguire, mostly because I think he viewed Maguire -- anothe former football player -- as a worthy adversary, Maguire was never afraid to call BS on Theismann, and Patrick was exceptional at playing referee. However, I think this is the reason he and Kornheiser just aren't meshing.

Kornheiser -- who has refused so far refused to indulge Theismann's need for a foil -- has become a great addition to the crew. After initially seeming tentative and afraid to step on Theismann's toes, he's opened up with witty and insightful analysis of the games and -- more imporantly -- the people in and around the games. He's doing exactly what ESPN execs brought him in to do.

Theismann, on the other hand, seems intimidated by Kornheiser's eloquence and quick wit from time to time, and has a propensity to repeat himself over and over and over again. I didn't count exactly how many times Theismann talked about the new turf in the Superdome, but it had to be at least 10 over the span of the first half. It was borderline ridiculous, and I found myself shouting at the TV, "Enough! I get it! The rubber hasn't settled yet, and it's comparable to a muddy field! ... And it's not the reason why Atlanta is losing!"

What this crew really needs is a hardcore X's and O's guy, somebody who seems comfortable enough with himself to let Kornheiser do what he was hired to do and who doesn't seem to constantly feel the need to assert his manhood. I know FOX would be reticent to let ESPN get their greasy mitts on him, but Troy Aikman would be the perfect fit for that booth. He's smart and confident and has an air of professional about him that I believe would fit in nicely with Tirico's understated style.

Following up on BALCO

  • You already know how I feel about a federal judge in California ruling that two San Francisco Chronicle journalists must break promises to confidential sources and reveal their identities or go to prison. (By the way, I want to be clear that I don't necessarily blame the judge, who is there to execute the law; I blame the overzealous prosecutors who had the option to not subpoena the reporters in the first place, but chose to anyway.)

    Here are just a couple of more perspectives I ran across. I mentioned that this kind of a ruling can set a dangerous precedent; at least one columnist thinks that we're already heading that direction. I also found this transcript of an interview with Mark Fainaru-Wada conducted back in June, in which he explains in detail why he and Lance Williams did what they did. Pretty long, but also gives a lot of insight.


Anonymous said...

I agree that something is amiss. I'm still getting used to Kornheiser, who doesn't seem to be comfortable yet, and refuses to reach the entertaining level in which he hammers Wilbon. I'm sitting in the camp of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Current Sunday night broadcast kicks the crap out of the Monday night show, and that makes me sad. By the time the Sunday night game comes on, I'm ready for something else and I think that Madden's talent is wasted in that time slot.

Also, as for your bid on Aikman, I'm not disagreeing with you but you didn't hear the studio guys cap on him for not giving the Seahawks credit for kicking the crap out of the Giants on Sunday. Throughout the entire game, Aikman continually made excuxes for the Giants and everything had to do with the fact that they (the Giants) weren't playing well. Guess what Troy? A lot of teams don't play well against the reigning conference champs. Why? Because the reigning conference champs are good.

I wish I could remeber who it was but one of the first things said during the postgame show back in the studio was "I'm tired of hear about this game from Troy Aikman." Then the studio team porceeded to explain just how dominant the Seahawks were in their defeat of the Giants. His own co-workers noticed it. That's pretty bad.


The Nuss said...

You're right -- I didn't hear it, because all I could hear was the ringing in my ears from 68,000 artificial noise makers. ;-)

Seriously though, if that's what happened, that's not so good. Whenever I've seen him, he's tended to be pretty good. Although, I will say this -- in looking down the list of broadcast pairings last night, there really is a dearth of decent game analysts. It's no wonder NBC was so desperate to get Madden; pretty much everyone else sucks.

What about a guy like Dick Vermeil? I think he's doing college broadcasts now ...

erik said...

the worst thing is when tony either jokes with or rips with theisman ( i don t know which he is doing) and theisman doesnt get it and just repeats himself...It reminds me of talking to high school kids who dont realize they arent as smart as you..

The Nuss said...

He's usually doing both at the same time. That's what I'm talking about with Theismann -- it's like he constantly feels like his manhood's being assaulted. It's like he's saying to Kornheiser: "You can use your fancy words, but I'm still more of a man than you because I played professional football!"