When it comes to the Monday Night Football broadcast crew, you either love them or hate them. That's to say you either love Tony Kornheiser, or you hate him.
See, most viewers like play-by-play guy Mike Tirico. He's solid. Pleasant enough. Doesn't really inspire high praise or hard knocks by viewers. And most viewers like analyst Ron Jaworski. He's enthusiastic. Knows his stuff. And, best of all, he's not Joe Theismann.
That leaves Kornheiser. Few admit to liking him. Many hate him. How come? Well, he didn't play. He never coached. He's a bit of a wiseguy at times. But let's be clear. It isn't his role to explain the Tampa 2 or dissect why a receiver got so wide open. His role is to represent the fan — a fan who takes interesting numbers, stories and history and makes them relevant. His role is to add a laugh or two to a game that is occasionally taken too seriously. His role is to get Jaworski to use English when he starts talking football-ese.
On all those fronts, Kornheiser succeeds, and he did again Monday night. That's not to say you have to like him. But if you don't, at least judge him on what he's there to do, not what you think he's there to do.
Cast of thousands
Can ESPN's Monday Night Countdown pregame show possibly cram any more people on the set? Looks like the chariot race from Ben Hur.
It's always fun to watch Bucs coach Jon Gruden lose his mind on the sideline after a Bucs mistake, but after the Bucs failed to score a TD in the second quarter after being first-and-goal from the 2, why would ESPN show a slo-mo replay of Gruden using the big kahuna of curse words? Even someone who had never read lips before could read that word. That's not Gruden's fault. That's ESPN's fault.
Great hustle and camera work on Jermaine Phillips’ spectacular third-quarter interception for the Bucs. Runnerup: the cool and amazing catches of Carolina WR Steve Smith during the pregame.
Quote that kind of summed up the night
ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski: "This is one of the few times that I've seen a Monte Kiffin defense just getting whipped. The Carolina offense is just pummelling them."