December 27, 2005, - 2:28 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
The end of “Monday Night Football” (MNF) is a sign of the end of network TV. No-one is watching anymore. Programming is inane and disposable. And even MNF fell victim.
The show had the inane (and actually, absurd) Dennis Miller. Thankfully, he–like so many other hosts of the show for a while–was disposable.
Yes, I know it’s not really the END of MNF because it will be on ESPN, next season. But actually, it is. The show will not be the same. They probably won’t have Hank Williams, Jr. singing the theme. The show will be a new show, albeit with the same old name.
I watched most of last night’s last MNF, and here’s what I noted:
* Among the special guests, even the Unabomber was in attendance. Okay, so it wasn’t really THE Unabomber, but his fashion protege, New England Patriots’ Head Coach Bill Belichick, in his signature hooded sweatshirt, hood overhead, looked a lot like the real thing. Significant, since the death of MNF was looming.
* No O.J. Yes, O.J. Simpson was a host of MNF for a brief time. Yet, he was conveniently barely mentioned. By design, and that’s a good thing. You can have a coach that dresses like a murderer pacing the sidelines. But spare us the real thing–even if a jury whose average IQ was 50 didn’t convict him–in attendance (we wish the real thing were also eliminated from playing, not just announcing–Ray Lewis, anyone?). Perhaps he was, indeed, invited, but was still looking for “the real killers.”
* No Joe Willie Namath. I like Joe Namath. Broadway Joe was a great host, in my view. Don’t know why they dropped him. But his absence is symbolic that–despite his alcohol rehab–he’ll never get over the televised debacle of repeated “I want to kiss you”s to ESPN’s Suzie Kolber. Too bad. Namath had spunk. I’m a proud owner of his funny first autobiography (written at age 26, with the late Dick Schaap; Dick signed it for me when we both did “Politically Incorrect” on ABC) “I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow . . . ‘Cause I Get Better-Looking Every Day“.
* Don Meredith was in the house. Meredith was among the best hosts of MNF. Great sense of humor–an avuncular, nice guy. My friend, former University of Michigan and Detroit Lions head coach Gary Moeller, told me that Meredith was his favorite host of MNF and made the show what it was.
* Buh-Bye, John Madden–but, unfortunately, not good riddance. He’s going to the new MNF, “Sunday Night Football” on NBC. Too bad. I’ve never been a fan of Madden. Don’t know why anyone is. He never says anything interesting. It’s all the epitome of the obvious. Utterances like this one: “You see that guy running with the ball? When he gets into the end zone, it’s called a touchdown.” Thanks for the tip. What can you expect from a man who insists on riding a glorified trailor everywhere? Too afraid to fly–and to make any interesting observations about football.
* No Rush Limbaugh. Rush should have gotten a shot at hosting MNF. Would have helped ratings significantly. Looked like he was being groomed for the job at ESPN until he became a victim of absurd political correctness.
* Mr. Kathy Lee Gifford was also in the house. Almost 80 years old.
I doubt Joe Theismann can fill the shoes of an ABC MNF host. But that’s why the show’s on ESPN, a step down. Those are hand-me downs he must now fill, a lot easier, because less people are watching.
Tags: ABC, Bill Belichick, coach, Debbie Schlussel, Dennis Miller, Detroit Lions, Dick Schaap, Don Meredith, football, Gary Moeller, Hank Williams, head coach, Joe Theismann, Joe Willie Namath, John Madden, Jr., Kathy Lee Gifford, Michigan, Monday Night Football, NBC, New England Patriots, O.J. Simpson, Politically Incorrect, proud owner, Ray Lewis, Suzie Kolber, University of Michigan