First in Our Hearts, Third in the Booth

By Tony Kornheiser
Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Yesterday, I talked about how people always ask me if I'm busy preparing for "Monday Night Football." Today, I want to tell you the other question they invariably ask. (And no, it is not, "Have you had your eyes done?") They look at me with a big grin and say, "Are you excited about doing 'Monday Night Football?' " They have a grin on their faces because they would be excited about doing "Monday Night Football." Recognizing that, I always say: "Yeah, I'm very excited. Thanks for asking."

But, just between you and me, I'm not at all excited. I am terrified. I am terrified of the travel. And I am terrified at the prospect of having a live microphone in front of me for three hours and not having a single intelligent thing to say into it. (Although, as Cindy points out, that hasn't stopped most dopes, has it?) I can hear you say, "But, Tony, you've been on radio and television for years." Yes, but on radio I sometimes had as many as 10 or 12 straight minutes in which to say something and on television, even on a fast-paced exchange show like "PTI," Wilbon and I regularly have 30 seconds to say something.

On "Monday Night Football," I'm the third guy. After Tirico calls the play and Theismann analyzes the play, I'm going to have, at most, three to five seconds to say something -- and that's only if Theismann takes a breath and lets me talk. I can barely say anything intelligent in 30 seconds. How am I going to say anything worth saying in three-to-five? How much am I going to add by saying: "Yeah, guys, that was a great tackle. Good hittin' out there."

And I've never been in a live television situation. What if I say something irredeemable, like Jimmy the Greek or Mel Gibson? Then my career is over. (Although maybe Mel and I could star in "Lethal Weapon 5: The Day the Jews Got Even.") So that's why I'm not excited. I've got what Mel Brooks would call "High Anxiety."

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