ESPN's Decision To Remove Jaworski From "MNF" Booth Questioned By Media Columnists
ESPN's decision to remove Ron Jaworski from its "MNF" booth and “reassign him to the studio was foolish for many reasons,” according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. Jaworski offered “smart, sensible analysis, and the lively exchanges with Jon Gruden made for good TV.” Gruden has done “nothing to deserve a larger role” and has made some "head-scratching comments that weren't supported by replay or fact.” Jaworski will “be an asset on ESPN's Sunday and Monday pre-game gabfests, but both shows are already crowded enough” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/17). In Boston, Chad Finn writes Gruden “is entertaining, but he tilted toward caricature at times last season, and Jaworski’s nuts-and-bolts analysis proved a pleasant balance.” Removing Jaworski from the telecast “is not a good thing.” As “charismatic as Gruden can be, the suspicion here is that giving him more room to verbally wander may not be, either” (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/17). In Ft. Lauderdale, Mike Berardino wrote that he was “surprised and disappointed” about ESPN’s decision. Even though ESPN “says Jaworski will retain a key role in other areas, he’ll be missed on the 'MNF' broadcast, where now the floor is open for Jon Gruden to 'thisguy' viewers into submission for three solid hours” (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 2/15). In California, Jim Carlisle wrote under the header “‘Jaws’ Should Have Stayed In ‘MNF’ Booth." If ESPN was going to take anyone out of the booth “and put him in the studio, it should've been Gruden, not Jaworski.” The sigh of relief comes “in knowing Jaworski will still at least be on a number of ESPN shows, although all he really does is join a cast of thousands” (VCSTAR.com, 2/16).
NO HARM, NO FOUL: In N.Y. Phil Mushnick writes in removing Jaworski, “relegating him to a desk job while giving chatterbox Jon Gruden even less time to rest, ESPN has sustained its upward and onward path, the one that ends up right where it started.” Jaworski “didn’t belong in the MNF booth to begin with.” He had “never previously distinguished himself as a valued presence -- not for his wit, nor insights -- and he never would." The "best he could be during was just OK” (N.Y. POST, 2/17). CABLEFAX DAILY’s Chad Heiges writes, “I found myself wondering less about whether the net canned the correct color analyst and more about whether sports commentators really affect viewing experiences/audience levels.” The real trick across the sports landscape is “providing additional value in the form of stellar announcing.” Heiges: “Even if I’m not particularly concerned about regular-season NBA games, I will watch any contest featuring Hubie Brown.” His “vast knowledge of the game and unsurpassed astuteness could incite NBA interest among senior women.” Fox' Troy Aikman is “my main man in football, but the view is subjective and doesn’t alter my interest in NFL games 1 iota” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/17).
NO RIFT IN THE BOOTH: ESPN's Mike Tirico Friday said he did not know the "management-specifics of the how and the why” behind Jaworski's departure from "MNF," but said, “There’s no rift amongst any of us.” Tirico said he does not “necessarily know the real mechanics of the ‘this is why we want to do this.’” Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick asked Tirico if he had inquired about why the move was made. Tirico replied, “I did say ‘Why?’ and honestly I’m not going to share that with everybody because that’s not everybody’s business and the answer I got, I believe” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 2/17).