Monday, May 18, 2009

Gruden is an OK choice for MNF

Let’s see: Monday Night Football has tried a comedian and a sportswriter as part of its broadcast team and even auditioned a conservative talk show host.

Now they’re really getting wise. They’ve recruited an ex-coach and coaches generally know more about the Xs and O’s of football than anyone. Or at least more than Lisa Guerrero, an ex-Playboy cover girl.

Jon Gruden will become the 28th different announcer to serve in the booth or on the sideline in the 39 years of Monday Night Football. They have used seven ex-quarterbacks, yet only one ex-coach prior to Gruden. Big guy named Madden. He worked out well.

The fact is ever since the days of Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith in the 70s, MNF has been unable to capture the magic of Monday. And that’s OK.  They have tried bells and whistles and Hank Williams Jr. to pull in audiences. They have tried pre-game concerts and halftime shows and doubleheaders to create more excitement. They’ve put pretty women on the sideline.

It’s the football, stupid. Good football sells MNF. That’s why fans tune in. So it’s refreshing that MNF has finally recruited a football coach to tell football fans what’s actually happening on the football field.

I don’t know how we’re going to judge Gruden. He can be funny and he should be insightful but will he be controversial? He won’t be working an Oakland Raiders game this coming season so we can’t sit on the edge of our seats when he’s asked to comment about Al Davis. Or Jeff Garcia. And it’s doubtful Gruden will second-guess many, if any, coaches because he’s just warming the seat in the booth until he finds another job on the sideline so he doesn’t want to upset anyone.

So what we see is what we get: Gruden, without the Chucky face, analyzing the action on the field with some credibility to back it up until MNF finds another ex-something to take his place. And that’s OK.


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