Tony Kornheiser Must Be Stopped
Tuesday, September 09, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
One of my favorite comedies of all time is Christopher Guest's awesome "Best In Show", a mockumentary about dog breeders getting ready for a faux Westminster dog show. For those of you who haven't seen it, drop what you're doing RIGHT NOW, proceed immediately to the nearest rental store, and go pick up this DVD (or better yet, buy it, since it is well worth watching multiple times). For those who have seen it, you know that one of the highlights of the movie is Fred Willard, portraying one of the television commentators.

What's hilarious about it is that you get the feeling that Willard has never watched a dog show in his life (and in fact, may have never seen a dog before) and you can sense the frustration of his fellow commentator.

Now, the real life equivalent of that is Tony Kornheiser working Monday Night Football. Don't get me wrong - I like Kornheiser on Pardon The Interruption, and obviously he knows a bit about sports. But you would never guess it from listening to his banter on MNF. Mike Tirico is the play-by-play guy, while Ron Jaworski (a.k.a. "Jaws") gamely tries to break down the more intricate points of the game at hand. Kornheiser.... is just sort of there, doing his best to completely derail the conversation. He'll talk about almost anything BUT the game going on in front of him. And, just like Best in Show, his fellow commentators are often completely irritated by him.

King Kaufman chronicles Kornheiser's latest baffoonery, in which Kornheiser seems to think that no QB other than Brett Favre has EVER thrown a well-thrown pass over 20 yards or made a dramatic throw off-balance.

One holdover from the old days of trying to dress up the game to appeal to the casual fan is Tony Kornheiser, who on Monday just would not let up on the story line of Rodgers replacing Brett Favre. He identified Rodgers' every move as Favre-like and attributed every hand-clap in Lambeau Field to Packers fans seeing Favre when they looked at Rodgers.

He'd already been hitting that theme pretty hard when Rodgers threw a nice bomb early in the second quarter, Greg Jennings making a beautiful catch down the middle at the Minnesota 6-yard line for a 56-yard gain.

"That is exactly the kind of pass that Brett Favre would have thrown," Kornheiser gushed, "and look at the way the crowd responds right now! It's Aaron Rodgers, and he's waking the echoes of No. 4 with a play like that."

Waking the echoes? I don't know. I've been to a lot of football games, some of them before Brett Favre even got to Southern Miss, never mind Green Bay, and I'm pretty sure the home crowd always responds in a favorable manner to a 56-yard pass by the home team to the 6-yard line. Even if the pass wasn't particularly Favre-like in any way.

I was incredibly frustrated by the endless prattling about Favre by Kornheiser. It was a disservice to poor Aaron Rodgers, who's been nothing but classy in the face of all the Favre retirement hysteria. The kid played a great game and deserved to be praised on his own merits, not endlessly compared to some guy he used to back up.

What's more offensive about Kornheiser though is the way he comes at every game with an agenda in mind. I've heard him say on several occasions "That's not what people want to see! The story they want to see is... [insert storyline here]". He comes at games with a particular storyline he wants to push and discuss, even if events on the field don't support that. Again, going back to this week's game, it was clear Kornheiser was hellbent on talking about Brett Favre, no matter what. He's done it in previous games, deciding ahead of time which players he wanted to focus on, and what angles he wanted to push. One of the great things about sports is the element of surprise - that an unlikely hero could arise at any moment, that a "sure thing" player might fail in epic fashion, that the underdog might just win. By deciding what stories are important in advance, Kornheiser is detracting from the best part of watching live football. We don't tune in because we want some artificial drama between two players (i.e. the "Manning Bros duel" from last year's Colts-Giants game). We watch because some dude we've never heard of named Dante Rosario might end up catching the game winning pass with 1 second left on the clock.

A great sportscaster has the ability to quickly analyze what's going on on the field of play, and then say something that will provide the viewer with some interesting fact about what they're seeing. Some are insiders, who have tidbits about every player on the field - i.e. what their approach to the game is, or some quote from the player that illustrates something about their play or character. Some commentators can break down the play to illustrate how it works, what advantages and disadvantages it has, so that the viewer better understands the more advanced part of the game. Kornheiser does neither of these. Basically, he talks about whatever dramatic storyline he had prepared before the game, and spends the rest of his time making non-football related comments that distract the other guys in the booth.

Consider these contributions from Kornheiser from the first and second quarter of the MNF game this week:
  • "That's exactly the kind of pass Favre would have thrown. Does it remind you of him at all?" (now read that quote to yourself 400 times, since that's how much he talked about Favre)
  • "He looks like Jack Black, only bigger."
  • "Our cheese curds are saltier than your cheese curds."
Frankly, it needs to stop. Kornheiser needs to go back to his column, radio show and PTI, and leave MNF alone. MNF gets some of the marquee matchups throughout the year, and it sucks as a fan knowing that if I want to watch the ONLY game airing at that time, I must suffer through Tony Kornheiser's never ending rambling.
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On 12:16 PM , Beers said...

I'm not a big MNF watcher. (It comes with the territory of not having television in my apartment.) However, I have long been fascinated by the Tony Kornheiser experiment on MNF. I am a huge TK fan, and it makes me sad that he constantly gets such bad reviews for his MNF performance. I miss Tony's weekday radio show that I get to listen to during the off season thanks to iTunes. I suspect he's tanking on purpose as he makes no bones about expressing his dislike of doing MNF with great regularity during his show. If this is true, that he's deliberately tanking then that makes me even more sad.

On 3:23 PM , Mad Typist said...

I like TK in his other formats. Just not on MNF. I share your disappointment if he's intentionally sucking to try and get out of doing MNF.

What exactly does he say about MNF on his show?