It may be hard to believe, but I feel last night was the start of Monday Night Football’s turnaround.
There was something about the booth combination and the Michael Vick Saga that seemed to show off everything Monday Night Football should be. And while it may pain Joe Theismann to hear this, I actually enjoyed the broadcast. A lot.
Sure, there was plenty of Michael Vick overkill. Interviews were done with people that may or may not know anything about the ongoing drama. But when it came to the Falcons organization, no punches were pulled.
I think what works about the MNF crew is that not only do they come from a diverse background, they all happen to like eachother. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed this, but Theismann hated Tony Kornheiser, and Tony seemed to enjoy this. Now while that does make for some great comedy, it does not make for a smooth broadcast.
With Ron Jaworski in the booth this year, however, things seem to go much better. Jaws is one of those guys that loves the game so much he could talk about it forever. If anyone has stayed up on a Saturday and watched one of those 4 A.M. “NFL Matchup” shows, you know what I’m talking about. Watching Jaws makes you feel smarter after you’re done, like you could actually understand the Tampa Two scheme. That may not be what some people want in their football broadcast, but I think Jaws does provide something that has been missing from most TV crews in the past: Football IQ.
Mike Tirico is bland, predictable, and doesn’t have much to offer in regards to commentary. I think that works for him because he has someone like Tony Kornheiser to do that for him. Tony isn’t afraid to tell you what he feels, and while his fantasy ramblings have been annoying, he seems to be more on point this year.
The different backgrounds and styles of the three seem to bring a pretty equal viewpoint of the action. The football broadcast itself was smooth and enjoyable. (well… as enjoyable as a preseason game goes.) Kornheiser made the usual jokes, Tirico said what he was supposed to, and Jaws analyzed everything he saw. He was spot on in reading a blitz late in the game, and his football IQ will help others understand how the game works.
The most telling moment of the broadcast came when it was disclosed that ESPN was not allowed to ask any questions to the Falcons players during their sideline interviews. Kornheiser took notice of this, calling for accountability from the Falcons organization and letting their players speak for themselves. He spoke as a journalist, not as a guy in a booth getting paid by tWWL.
Jaws then defended the Falcons, saying that they are trying to move past the issue. It was an interesting paralell to Tony, and one that shows the strengths of the booth. It just didn’t feel like there was a company line drawn, but rather Monday Night Football was used to spotlight and discuss one of the most interesting and devestating stories of the NFLs history.
I’m not saying that Mike Vick and his legal troubles hasn’t been talked about; it certianly has and will continue to be. But tonight, when anyone who really cared about football was watching, the issue was properly discussed and explored. There was no yelling, no points awarded, just questions asked and acountability demanded.
Everyone is sick of watching “First and 10”, “Mike and Mike”, or Sportscenter anchors editorialize over the situation. Every fan has their own opinion on the issue, and no amount of yelling is going to make their own view catch on. Still, it was nice to see it properly handled on the one of football’s biggest stages.
This whole “Mike Vick” thing isn’t going to go away. The least we can do is a fair look at it.