Tony Kornheiser may not be John Madden in the broadcast booth, but the two ex-voices of Monday Night Football share at least one common trait: a fear of flying.
While Madden was notorious for traveling cross-country in his own RV (dubbed the “Madden Cruiser”), Kornheiser — who also co-hosts ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption with Mike Wilbon — was apparently not afforded the same luxury.
That lack of wheels, combined with his personal aviophobia, was strong enough to force Kornheiser to resign his post as color commentator on Monday.
Subsequently, Kornheiser’s exit opened the door for another voice that shares commonalities with the legendary Madden.
That man is former NFL head coach Jon Gruden, now the newest member of the MNF announcing crew. Like Madden, Gruden spent time at the helm of the Oakland Raiders. Most recently, however, he has been the leading signal caller for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with whom he won a Superbowl in 2003.
Gruden’s choice is intriguing in that he has no prior broadcasting experience. With the exception of comedian Dennis Miller, the Monday Night Football broadcast booth has most often been populated by journalists and play-by-play men with impressive resumes.
On top of that, Gruden and Kornheiser couldn’t be more different in the commentary they provide during the game.
Kornheiser had his bright moments, but often came off as long-winded and slightly removed from the game action. He also had a penchant for turning interesting brief side stories into wordy novellas that bordered on tedious chit-chat.
Gruden brings the on-field perspective to the press box and will likely appeal to the casual fan in a way that Kornheiser could not. His brevity and bluntness will be appreciated, but might clash with ex-quarterback Ron Jaworski, who also provides commentary. Jaworski and Gruden have enjoyed similar views of the game over the years, and therefore will likely cancel each other out from time to time.
Gruden has made it no secret that he would like to return to coaching, and at age 45 he is still young enough to do so. That means we may see another change on MNF in the near future.
Don’t get too comfortable with Gruden. He’ll likely be gone before you know it.