Whaddya Mean, Don't Quit My Day Job?

By Tony Kornheiser
Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I don't know if you stayed up for the entire "Monday Night Football" game, but I did for the first time in about 25 years. It also was the first time I was paid to stay up and admittedly that makes a difference. Things were going along pretty well, I thought, and the game was winding down when I had this moment of terror. Suddenly, the Vikings were within field goal range in a three-point game and Theismann leaned over and told me you actually do go to overtime in preseason. I couldn't believe that. I honestly didn't know. I figured it ended in a tie, people shook hands and went home. Because it's an exhibition game, it doesn't count for anything.

But before I could call my agent to ask what sort of terrible deal he had gotten me involved in, my Bald Brother and new favorite NFL coach, Minnesota's Brad Childress, disdained the tie and went for the end zone. Good for him. More importantly, better for me because I had nothing more to say. I'd used up everything in the notebook and if Tirico had come to me again, I might have had to recite the prologue to "The Canterbury Tales" in the Olde English. It was all I had left. And I had that problem of not having gone to the bathroom since halftime so I was in no shape physically for overtime.

In critiquing my performance, I think what makes me happiest was that I didn't throw up. (Though if I had, I would have aimed at that putz in Style.) And much to my surprise, I did not sweat through my clothes. In truth, I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I would be. The first time I heard my voice on the air, I was actually reassured, especially because the words didn't come out in Mandarin.

Other people have spent the day scrutinizing my work and I accept that I am on television and am fair game. But I'll tell you that when it was over, I was pretty pleased that I hadn't made a fool of myself. Of course, it's a long season and that will still happen. Many times. But at least I got out of Game 1 without cursing or slandering anyone or getting into a kerfuffle with Theismann or identifying Brad Johnson as Lyndon Johnson or telling Suzy Kolber on the air, "I want to kiss you."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company