Despite the surfeit of spectacular games in the first 14 weeks of
Monday Night Football, perhaps you've grown weary of play-by-play
man Al Michaels and funnyman Dennis Miller vying to out-erudite
one another. Moreover, there's still something of a forced amity
among Michaels, Miller and analyst Dan Fouts. Where, you wonder,
are all my rowdy friends?
On the radio, that's where.
Each Monday night Westwood One-CBS Radio Sports' three-man booth
of play-by-play man Howard David and analysts Boomer Esiason and
Matt Millen delivers the blend of insight and unforced
camaraderie that MNF executive producer Don Ohlmeyer was shooting
for when he hired Fouts and Miller last summer. For Esiason, who
was fired last winter after two tumultuous years on MNF during
which he drew the enmity of Michaels and became the primary
scapegoat for the program's declining ratings, this has been a
season of redemption. "We're just three guys who enjoy getting on
each other's cases and having some fun," says Esiason, who joined
a David-Millen duo that had worked together for three years. The
trio is heard by about 10 million listeners on more than 470
stations nationwide. "I mean," adds Esiason, "you don't need a
dictionary to cover an NFL game."
On the day that ABC fired Esiason last March, Westwood One
president and CEO Joel Hollander offered him a job. "I told Joel
the most important thing was to work with teammates who like me,"
says Esiason, who weighed the offer for four months before
accepting. "From the first day I entered the booth, it has been
Listening to Esiason on radio as opposed to his MNF days is akin
to watching McLean Stevenson on M*A*S*H* versus Stevenson on
Hello, Larry. Working in tandem, Esiason and Millen have been
analytically sharp and have displayed an easy, joking rapport,
especially when former quarterback Esiason chides beefy former
linebacker Millen about his "search and destroy" mentality toward
pregame buffets. "Chemistry is something you can't force," says
David, "and maybe that's the difference between Boomer Esiason on
Monday Night Football and the guy you hear with Matt and me."
Says Esiason, "I wasn't sure if this was such a good idea when I
agreed to do radio. But now? This year has restored my faith in
restored my faith in broadcasting."