Until Theismann analyzes it, the play’s not over

Joe Theismann, fired three years ago as the analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” talks with Adam Schein and Jim Miller about the show replacing Tony Kornheiser with Jon Gruden on the Sirius NFL Radio show today:


On Gruden: The man knows a ton about football. He understands the game. He’ll bring a perspective and I think he’ll play off of Jaws [Ron Jaworski] very, very well. I think it’s a very good move by them.”

On how long Gruden will stay: “I’d go an over-under on two (years). … Jon Gruden won a world championship [and he’s] not coaching. Brian Billick won a world championship, not coaching. Mike Holmgren won a world championship, not coaching. Mike Shanahan won a world championship, not coaching. Bill Cowher won a world championship, not coaching. How about that for an alumni of Super Bowl Champion coaches that are not actively coaching in the game? I think that will change. I feel confident Mike Holmgren will be back in the game next year, Mike Shanahan will be back in the game next year [and] I know if the right situation came up for Brian Billick he would want to be back in the game. I’m not convinced that Coach Cowher will ever get back into football. Actually, I played golf with him this past weekend in a tournament and I looked at his face and I said, ‘It’s really something to see you without all those stress lines all over your face. You look like a 21 year old kid again.’ And he started laughing. And it’s just the nature of the business that wears you out. I think Jon’s going to have the itch to get back. Could be at the college level, could be at the professional level. I think either place he goes it would be very interesting for him.”

On the importance of having two “football guys” in a booth: “I got fired three years ago because I talked about football. That was the explanation I got. And ESPN has moved on from that. They tried a different scenario to get away from the game and I think the football fans really want to hear about the game and they can bring a different perspective. It isn’t the knowledge of the individuals. It’s the chemistry that is created between the individuals that makes, I think, for a great telecast.”

On Tony Kornheiser should be judged on MNF: “I think as a fish out of water. I don’t think Tony was ever really comfortable in a role. I know the time that I spent with him, he really didn’t want to do football. One of the things we discussed early on, he didn’t want to go to meetings and it was an interesting scenario because, you know, Tony is a cynic. Tony wants to criticize. That’s what he does with PTI and that’s what he’s done as a writer. When he got into television the reason he didn’t want to sit down with coaches and players was really simple, because he felt like if you got to know them then it would be very difficult to be able to criticize them the way he has. And I think he really found out that there are a lot of really great people that are involved in professional football and a lot of the things that you hear, a lot of the things that you think about individuals aren’t necessarily the case. But Tony was cast in a role to bring a different type of perspective to the telecast and I think people will look at the three years there and say, ‘He was a writer. He was a guy that gave it a shot … ‘ It’s not for me to judge how someone will view Tony. I know how I did and I, like I said, to me I always felt like he was somewhat of a fish out of water. It wasn’t a comfortable place for him and that is very difficult to mask when you’re on a set. When you do three hours of a telecast people are going to get to know an awful lot about you and in Tony’s case I think he did a heck of a job trying to get ready and prepare but I still don’t think he ever found a comfort zone doing television.”

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