Thursday, August 21, 2008
In its first year on ESPN, MNF decided that it would be smart to cross promote ABC shows all while the game was going on. The likes of Emmitt Smith (only talking DWTS), Hank Williams Jr talked about nothing while Christian Slater and James Denton battled to see who could piss off the audience more. While they did a much better job of keeping the guests in tune with the game in 2007 (Deanna Favre was amazing in October and the return of Jimmy Kimmel was hilarious), we still had to endure the likes of Drew Caray talking Soccer, Jimmy Johnson & Jeff Gordon talking nonsense, Russell Crowe talking Rugby, John C. Reilly talking "Dewey Cox" and my personal favorite Vince Vaughn talking about nothing.
The whole idea reeked of forcing reality shows and crappy movies down our throats. People could smell it from a mile away and weren't happy about it. Every mainstream site and blog hammered them for it and rightfully so.
Fast forward to today....After hearing accounts from people who attended the ESPN Monday Night Football Luncheon that took place in New York on Monday, (yes AA was invited, yes AA thought it was a trap so he didn't go) it seems to me that ESPN is attempting a re-branding of sorts for Monday Night Football. And, according to multiple sources, including Neil Best of Newsday, ESPN might not have any guests at all this season!
But here's a snippet that might even be newsworthy: When I asked producer Jay Rothman for his best guess about the number of booth guests this season, now that Brett Favre will be unavailable for the opener at Lambeau, he said, "Zero."ZERO?!?! Well how about that? ESPN has been hammered over the past few years for being stubborn and not listening to their fans, but I think that's somewhat changing. Obviously not everyone can have what they want, but it's good that they understand how distracting and pointless a lot of those guests were and that they're (theoretically) making a change.
Then he added, "We may pull something off the eve of the election, but if we do we’ll do so at halftime."
Umm . . . the election? Was he referring to the President of the United States, perhaps?
"I don't know," Rothman said.
Umm . . . where is the game the night before the election?
Rothman: "Washington, D.C."
I also don't really have problems with guests as long as they are somehow linked to the game at hand. It would also be understandable to have the President on as well before the election. But inviting "Desperate Housewives" actor James Denton on, when he clearly knows nothing about Football, might have possibly been the worst decision in the history of Sports Television. I'm just saying.
President Bush to visit 'MNF' booth Nov. 3? (Newsday)