December 27, 2005, - 2:28 pm

Notes on the Last “Monday Night Football” (on Network TV)

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.

billbelichick.jpg

Fashion by the Unabomber: New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick

* 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.

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10 Responses

NOW working on my end-of-the-world novel which WILL be mainstream…alas, publishing has YET to dinosaur it like network television.
SOME MISSED POINTS—ABC/Disney LOSES a major launching platform by abandonning MNF!!!
As the recent T.O./Desperate Wives promo proved, it CAN be a major launching pad/media ATTENTION GRABBER…and think of the VOID ABC now has on Monday nights!!! [The only POSSIBLE way to FILL THE gap would be a Debbie-in-ligerie show...but i AM biased...]
IS ABC gonna TRY to fill the void with an Invasion, Desperate Housewives and Boston Legal block??? i DOUBT that would work…gimme Deb, gimme DEB!!!
Now let’s ALL start the e-mail campaign

EminemsRevenge on December 27, 2005 at 3:35 pm

Deb, you should vie for thew spot and have your own show

KOAJaps on December 27, 2005 at 4:04 pm

Now hold on Deb! You can’t say anything bad about Belichick, probably the best coach in history. What has former supposed genius Parcells done since he and Belichick parted? Yeah, he’s not Mr. GQ, but he’s a great coach…he could even make Detroit Lions win I bet. He’s a great blue collar kind of coach, I love the guy.
Can’t blame Namath for wanting to kiss Suzie Kolber!

Jeff_W on December 27, 2005 at 4:21 pm

Jeff:
Definitely not knocking Belichick, since he won several Superbowls. I just think it’s funny that he looks like the Unabomber with that hood over his head, especially when–like last night–he has the headphones over the hood. It’s funny.
Debbie Schlussel

Debbie Schlussel on December 27, 2005 at 4:48 pm

Debbie you know a lot about sports for a girl.

shleppy on December 27, 2005 at 7:38 pm

Debbie wouldn’t last as long as Rush on ESPN, who hired the repugnant lefties Robin Roberts, that creep Olbermann, and the others who deliberately misconstrued Rush’s comments on McNabb. Mitch Albom would have a stroke seeing Debbie on ESPN.
I can’t stand Theisman and McGuire on ESPN football telecasts. They get on one point and just beat it to death, keep harping on it over and over through the telecast.
I agree network TV is dying. I never regularly watch any network show except football, and movies are headed down the tubes, too. Hollywood and the TV networks are just completely out of touch with normal America these days.

The_Man on December 27, 2005 at 8:22 pm

Damn, finally, somebody else who ALSO thinks John Madden was King of the Obvious. I’d listen to him blather and it’d be like, “if this were Radio, that might have been worth saying.” As it were, he goes, “when that guy drops the ball, and fumbles it, it gets turned over to the other team. AND THAT’S NOT GOOD.” Really? I thought you want to do that as many times as possible.
MNF was getting worse and worse mainly for the reason you hadn’t even pointed out: ever notice that unlike any other broadcast anywhere on television (including professional sports), ABC’s MNF commercials were Radio length? That is, instead of the normal 30 seconds, they were 1 minute long spots?? The only time you see ads that long is Maybe during the SuperBowl.
It got to the point that football fans of mine stopped watching. Especially on the east coast where games START at 9pm and can end as late as 1am, and they have to be up at 5, 6 AM to be at work.
I dunno what ABC was thinking when they hired Dennis Miller for the show; as much as I love that guy, he’s got no back ground in football or professional sports. Hiring him for that is like hiring Al Franken to host a political talkshow… Oh, wait a minute, what’s that? He does?? Holy sh…

Dairenn on December 28, 2005 at 1:53 am

I still measure all announcers by Howard Cosell;when he left the show,I gave up watching football-and still have contempt for it by how Cosell was treated for his “little monkey” comment
about Alvin Garrett.Whatever anyone thinks of Cosell,forcing him to defend himself on charges of racism was beyond sick.

jaywilton on December 28, 2005 at 9:55 am

No problem, Deb. I looked at the pic again and he does look like the Unabomber. I love your sense of humor, and I was partly kidding myself, especially the part about Belichik could make the Lions a winner!
I won’t miss Madden’s man crush on Brett Favre and he is going to do NBC’s Sunday Night game.
MNF just hasn’t been the same without Cosell.

Jeff_W on December 28, 2005 at 10:19 am

I have to wonder what Alex Karras did to be exiled without a mention as a former analyst. He made Dandy Don’s absence bearable.

JRob on December 28, 2005 at 8:11 pm

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