©02 The Media Desk
Monday Night Football hasn't been about the GAME since that bird was hatched thirty odd years ago. And even less so lately. For instance, since when do you hire a comic to do commentary on a sporting event? It's as if Disney was producing it. Oh, yeah... they are.
Cosell began the show in the seventies, and left after a dozen years because it had become 'a bore'. If Howard 'I never played the game' Cosell was fed up with it, what are we to think?
Well, OK, about half the games are boring.
The Desk has managed to watch the majority of the MNF games over the last three years. And at least half of them were over before halftime. A few were worth paying attention to through the fourth quarter, and only a couple came down as nail biters into the two minute warning.
So ABC hired something called Dennis Miller to liven up the booth.
Miller prided himself on being able to use inane and arcane references and examples that most people had never heard of. Even the overeducated and trivia studying Desk had to look up some of the things he said. It got to the point where the Smithsonian Institution ran a special on their website during the game called 'The Annotated Dennis Miller'. When he would say something that didn't need to be said, they'd bring up the reference so you could find out what Prometheus or the road to Katmandu had to do with the last play.
The Desk is all for educating the public. It loves obscure references and knew that Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. But does it like to think about Greek Mythology during third and goal on the nine yard line? No.
So Miller is now out.
And so is Dan Fouts.
Where Miller was a babbling egghead who swallowed a thesaurus with a mouth that was stuck in overdrive, Fouts was a football guy. Period. His broadcasting prowess was questionable and his role in the booth was usually reacting to a question or comment by Al Michaels. OK, that's fine. But ABC wants spark and drive. Oh well.
The Desk never had a problem with Fouts.
It did have a problem with Miller.
And it Does have a problem with John Madden.
Face it. Madden is senile.
Remember the late Harry Caray? Toward the end of his career he was almost deaf, totally intoxicated, and senile to the point of being embarrassing to listen to. He would forget who the Cubs were playing, or what town they were in. He'd get off on a tangent and talk about Mexican winter baseball leagues or something, and miss two or three plays. At times he'd be going over something that happened in a game five years ago and talk about today's game and confuse himself, and the listeners, as to what was happening when.
John Madden isn't that bad, yet. And when the game gets dull, his ramblings about somebody's uncle who used to play college ball forty years ago may even be entertaining. And his repertoire of sound effects and noises is legendary. But it gets old at times. Especially if you want to hear the play by play.
ABC doesn't care what the fans want, they are irrelevant. Even though MNF has been loosing share consistently over the last several years.
The network should take a hard-learned lesson from the XFL. The hardcore football audience is in for the long haul. Madden, Miller, or even a Disney AudioAnimatronic of Howard Cosell or even old Mr. Caray himself. Doesn't matter. If It Is Football. We will watch it. Period.
The XFL hired politicians, pretty boys, and bimbos. And forgot that even while it was football a la wrestling, it was supposed to be FOOTBALL first. Yeah. Football. If they had covered it like a sport instead of a fraternity beer brawl, it might have worked.
It's the borderline fans that they are loosing. They don't want to put up with a lot of nonsense, if the show part gets too lame they'll turn it off. And they are. And ABC knows it.
Maybe they want to loose money on the program so Disney can use it as another advertising vehicle for their other adventures in media.
Well. The Desk can resort to its old tactic of turning the sound off and finding 880 AM-WCBS or some other radio broadcast and listen to it.
[NOTE:ABC, Monday Night Football, and all associated names and identifying marks are registered trademarks of ABC and Disney. The Desk is not affiliated in any way with any of them.