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Interacting With Fans Is Risky Business

By Tony Kornheiser
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Those of you stayed up all the way to the end of the "Monday Night Football" game in Cincinnati -- and, believe me, I didn't want to -- will recall that it was resumed after a delay of almost an hour because of lightning. Personally, I couldn't believe that they would send the teams back on the field with nine minutes left in an exhibition game that, at that point, was 41-10. I mean, really, wasn't that enough?

When they did resume play, almost everyone had gone home. There couldn't have been more than 150 fans left in the entire stadium. And most of them appeared to be rip-roaring drunk and some of them headed for our broadcast booth. One guy shrieked and whistled for the last five minutes of the game. Perhaps you heard him. He was next to a guy who was drunkenly screaming and demanding that Mike, Joe and I sign what appeared to be a torn orange pillowcase. Or maybe it was his shirt. Joe and Mike, who are veterans at this, ignored him. During commercial breaks, I stupidly got up to wave at him and give him a big thumbs up, which only encouraged him all the more. Rookie mistake. After the game, Tirico and Theismann grabbed me and said, "Don't ever do that again." Like I was poking at a bear in the zoo.

So that's a lesson learned. And now I get a week off before the Redskins' opener, and I can concentrate on figuring out exactly what happened to a team I thought might win 13 games this year. Of course, to do that, they probably actually have to score at least three points in some of those games. I read where the offensive coordinator, Al Saunders, said that the offense is on "the right path." The path to what, exactly? Because it looks like the same path Hansel and Gretel took into the deep woods. Maybe the newest Redskins employee, Tom Cruise, can save the day. I don't know if anybody wants to go to his movies any more, since he became an absolute loon, but if Clinton Portis can't go in the opener, maybe Cruise can. Wasn't he a star football player once in "All the Right Moves"? And doesn't he look great running the 40 in all those "Mission: Impossible" movies? Don't tell me that the only thing he can do is inspire Six Flags' new Tom Cruise Couch Ride, where kids get to jump on and off a couch and yell about Ritalin at cardboard cutouts of Matt Lauer and Brooke Shields. Or maybe he could just be the newest assistant coach, the one in charge of Lookin' Good.

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