Being Viewed in a Whole New Way
MINNEAPOLIS - Well, here I am in Minneapolis and tonight is Monday night and, in my new life, that means I'm working. I'm doing a little thing I hear is called "Monday Night Football."
Let me tell you about the walkup to the game for the broadcast crew. On Saturday, you meet with the home team. So to get to the Vikings, we took my bus to landlocked Mankato, Minn. (I guess that's to keep them as far as possible from Al and Alma's boats on Lake Minnetonka.) You sit and chat up players and coaches and it's all very chummy and for me, as a veteran sportswriter, it was a vastly different experience than I've had for 35 years.
Not only was I welcomed heartily, but nobody turned to me and said, as I have become accustomed to: "What kind of stupid question is that? Get outta here!" Apparently, at the moment there is no question I can ask that is dopey enough to offend players or coaches. Brad Childress, the rookie coach, didn't even mind my asking about him losing his hair. Of course, he probably understood my motivation since we're both charter members in the Bald Brotherhood.
And why do I merit this love? 'Cause I wear a thing about my neck that says "Network Television, Baby." I'm inside the velvet ropes now, boys and girls, and everyone should be very afraid.
Players actually walk up to me and cheerfully introduce themselves and wish me luck. Of course, I suspect that's because they want to be on "PTI" -- and because none of them have actually read the vicious things I've written about them. At my age I can honestly say I find this red-carpet treatment amusing. I should tell you, though, that I'm exceedingly nervous about tonight and my heart is thumping like a bunny. We did a rehearsal Sunday at the Metrodome and I felt like Gary Williams. I didn't just sweat through my shirt, I sweated through my suit and that was just a rehearsal . We're gonna go live tonight and it's very possible that there'll be so much water pouring off my body that I'll short out the entire electrical system at the Metrodome.
So if your screen goes dark in the first quarter, you'll know it was me.
Tony Kornheiser is on the other side of the ropes now, where coaches and players alike receive him like a chum and entertain all of his questions.