Last night's Broncos/Raiders 41-14 beatdown on Monday Night Football, which was awesome, shed light on a change that ESPN simply has to make to its MNF format. I'm not saying that they need to have 2 games every week. That would be ridiculous. The obvious change that ESPN has needed to make for the last 3 years is to remove Tony Kornheiser from the booth. In fact, I would be in favor of teaming Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic, and Mike Ditka for the rest of the season like they had last night.
While I think that Mike Tirico does a fine job on play-by-play, he is out of his element broadcasting football. He would probably be the first to tell you that he's a basketball guy, and he does a great job calling basketball games. Ron Jaworski is knowledgeable about the game, but his voice-over, highlight, film session style just isn't good in the booth. He sounds like he's always trying to insert his voice into a Sportscenter breakdown of a play, rather than simply explaining what happened. It's not a good style for the booth.
That brings us to Kornheiser. I enjoy his work on Pardon the Interruption, and he is a very accomplished writer. However, he is in the booth during the game to be the comedy guy, something that I think is a slap in the face to football fans. We, or at least I, don't need or want comedy during the game. A joke or pun now and then is good, but he tries to turn the game into a stand-up show or a forum to talk about a certain player's problems. He doesn't know the strategies of the game, nor is he capable of breaking down a play without first having it explained to him. He adds absolutely nothing to the game. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he detracts from its entertainment value. I have no idea why ESPN hasn't figured this out after 2 years of the same thing. Rather, they hired him back on for a 3rd year. Apparently the 3rd time isn't a charm, as nothing has changed from the previous 2 seasons of MNF.
I did enjoy the broadcast by Mike and Mike and Mike. Mike Greenberg is a very serviceable play-by-play guy. He's not a flashy, rah-rah type, but he just calls the action, and did a very good job of it last night. Both Ditka and Golic are capable of breaking down a game, and it gives the viewer the differing perspectives of Coach and Player. Normally I think that 3 is too many, but those guys worked well together last night. If I had a vote, I would be making a change to that format immediately. The problem that I have with ESPN is that most of their analysts are stars of the game that aren't well-spoken, which is a necessary characteristic if you are going to be on TV. Golic isn't one of those examples. He isn't exactly Barack Obama when it comes to speaking, but he is far from Emmitt Smith. He and Greenberg work well together, and Mike Ditka has a weekly spot on their radio show, Mike and Mike In The Morning, and he fits in well with Greenberg and Golic. That is the best NFL broadcast team that ESPN has had dating back to the days of Sunday Night Football on ESPN, and they are the emergency substitutes. It's a shame that they aren't the regulars.