Last night’s game was the first time all season that I’d really sat down and listened to the Monday Night Football game. It’s always on, but usually with the sound down as the kids are doing homework, or as we’re listening to music, or just running around doing fun stuff like cleaning the kitchen and putting the dishes away.
After last night, I may never listen again – because the production and coverage of last night’s game was horrifying. Awful doesn’t even begin to describe it. Mike Tirico is OK as a play-by-play announcer, but not much more than that. Ron Jaworski, when he’s allowed to do some analysis, is good – but it’s rare that you hear him do that; most of the time he’s just another cog in the wheel of whatever the night’s “storyline” has been decreed to be. Last night, we were again treated to the “St. Favre Show,” with special guest Deanna Favre. Don’t get me wrong – I really like Brett Favre, I think he represents much of what is great about sports, and I think it’s wonderful that he’s returned this year to replace that imposter who played so poorly in his place for the last few seasons. I also think that because of his appointed status as a deity by the sports television establishment, he was given a free pass for much of his bad play over that time. In 2004, 2005 and 2006 Favre was not a particularly good quarterback, but you would never have known that by listening to the coverage of a Packers game on any of the major networks. Sure, he had flashes of brilliance, but also flashes of play that would have embarrassed a high school player – bad decisions, bad throws, bad everything. But never mind that – this year, he’s playing great, and if it were not for the other-worldly performance of Tom Brady, might be a serious contender for the MVP award.
But last night was incredible. Deanna Favre in the booth to plug her book? I suppose I could live with that. But was it really necessary to cut to her in the crowd after every damn play in the second half? There comes a point when it’s just overkill. We get it – this is your storyline for the night, and we understand. We’re not stupid. Please don’t beat us over the head with it.
But the more serious question is whether ESPN really thinks seeing folks like Deanna Favre, Jimmy Kimmel, Russell Crowe and Vince Vaughn in the booth is why we’re tuning into Monday Night Football. I like Vince Vaughn, and I like the lowbrow humor of most of his movies. But what possible reason can you have for having him in the booth of a close game, with less than 7 minutes to play in the fourth quarter? It has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with marketing and entertainment. I guess that’s why Tony Kornheiser is there, unless it’s just to raise the level of bombast. It works on PTI, but just detracts from a football game. And PTI, at least in its truncated halftime version, has gone way beyond stale. Too bad, because when it first hit the airwaves it was genuinely interesting.
Overall, a hideous show. Difficult to watch during the best games, and excruciating the rest of the time.