I’ll be the first to say it: I miss Paul Maguire. The chemistry he had on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football with Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann was fantastic. He always made me laugh, he got along with his boothmates and he was GOOD. But when ESPN lost the Sunday game to NBC, they took over Monday Night Football. Al Michaels and John Madden left ABC for NBC’s Sunday game and this left ESPN with a problem: who was going to take over Monday Night Football?
Whoever was in charge of making this decision must have been gone the day this came up, because only someone truly clueless would have decided to disband a great team like Patrick, Maguire and Theismann. That has to be what happened. It is the only logical conclusion I can come up with, because no one in their right minds would have thought that Tony Kornheiser would be a great analyst. Would someone at ESPN find out who came up with this idea and smack him upside the head please?!
Mike Tirico is a great play-by-play commentator and Theismann has done his usual wonderful job as an analyst. But throw Kornheiser into the mix and you have a tension-filled booth. There is no chemistry between the three men. Tirico and Theismann get along very well, but it seems that neither one of them likes Kornheiser, and you get the feeling he doesn’t really like them either.
Why am I on Kornheiser’s case? I spent the evening watching the Seattle Seahawks and the Oakland Raiders. Granted, the game was very lopsided, with the Seahawks running over the Raiders 16-0. Granted, the Oakland offensive line allowed the Seattle defense to sack their quarterback nine times. Granted, it was pouring rain, very windy and overall a pretty bad game. But it would have been a LOT more enjoyable without Kornheiser sitting in the booth, whining!
Kornheiser has an antagonistic approach to things, which works well on the show he does with Mike Wilbon, Pardon the Interruption. But on MNF, he isn’t going back and forth, arguing points. He is there to give his views on a football game. While his quick wit and on-air barbs work great when arguing one-on-one with Wilbon, but he brings this same wit and barb throwing to a bigger audience and all it is doing is causing friction. During tonight’s game, he gave out “Tony Awards”, saying it was the only time that he could get a word in edgewise, because Tirico and Theismann won’t let him talk. He had the nerve to give an award to Tirico for the best costume during the Halloween race they had during last week’s halftime game. People dressed up in oversized costumes of Tirico, Theismann, Kornheiser, Michael Irvin, Chris Berman, Tom Jackson and Steve Young ran a race just for the entertainment value. It was supposed to be fun and silly, which it was (Steve Young won, in case you missed the race), even when the Tirico character tripped on his oversized shoes, fell down and lost his head. Kornheiser thought it was hilarious and decided to give Tirico an award for it. The look on Tirico’s face was one of surprise; if you were really paying attention, you could tell he was angry. I don’t blame him. I thought it was a very petty thing to do. Yet another glaring point that the tension in the booth is overwhelming.
Please do not get me wrong. I’m not saying Kornheiser isn’t qualified: he’s more than qualified. He has been writing for the Washington Post since 1979. The Tony Kornheiser Show premeired in November 1997, ending in March 2004. Pardon the Interruption began in September 2001 and is still going strong. His knowledge about the sports world, his staunch defense of his opinions and the sparring style that he uses with Wilbon works well on the PTI show. It’s a one-on-one show, one that can be stopped if a mistake is made (although I’m not sure if they do that or not, but the possibility is there). You can’t do that on MNF. The guys in the booth are not there to do a three-hour PTI show. They are there to give analysis and play-by play of a live game. I think Kornheiser seems to forget that. He tries to bait Theismann and Tirico, taking personal jabs at them and just flat out being argumentative about everything. I know the ratings are good; I’m not disputing that. But I have a problem with a man who is acting worse than my twelve-year-old son when he doesn’t get his way.
Get rid of Kornheiser when the season is over. I don’t mean fire him from ESPN, just dump him from MNF. Bring back Maguire; he is a great guy and a wonderful booth analyst who has great chemistry with whoever is next to him in the booth. Let Kornheiser go back to what he does best: irritating Wilbon on PTI.
Maguire has a massive fan following to his name and is far more talented than the overrated Kornheiser, with the latter being more of a liability to the team while the former is a valuable asset. The football index bonus code stands as a proof of Maguire’s popularity when he secured 68% votes compared to Kornheiser’s 32%.