Fortunately, ABC's "Monday Night Football" finally has a two-man booth. Unfortunately, it's now one man short of an analyst.
Boomer Esiason is the American standard of the late 20th century: pretty inoffensive, pretty inadequate and pretty telegenic. He offers little, other than a memorable moniker. He sounds articulate but articulates nothing. He's about as palatable as a BLT at a bad diner.
The temporary end of the three-man booth should be a boon for viewers. It is not. Once, it was: 1 + 1 + 1 = too many; now, it's 1 + 1 = too much Boomer.
Esiason has no insight, no wisdom, no humor, no perspective, no edge, no substance, no style and no special skills, other than insisting on telling us (often incorrectly) what a penalty will be just moments before the referee tells us. At best, Esiason simply regurgitates every comment you've ever heard on every other NFL telecast.
Here's an Esiason sampler from this season:
* "That's what coaches look for--they want to see points on the board."
* "When you think about it, this game is all about just making plays."
* "The one thing you can never expect is the injury."
* "When you go in at halftime, coaches make adjustments."
* "The war of the trenches in this game is really going to be key."
* "I don't know about you, Al, but Heather Locklear's looking pretty good."
Somehow, in the midst of all this, Al Michaels continues to do play-by-play.
(Related TV Note: The other Boomer, carnival barker Chris Berman, has his "fastest 3 minutes in TV" on ESPN. In recent weeks, these NFL highlights have lasted 3 minutes 53 seconds, 3:44 and 3:40. Wouldn't this make it the slowest 3 minutes in TV? Oh, by the way, Berman doing baseball play-by-play is like Marilyn Manson doing "Aida.")
(Officiating Note: Overlooked in the frenzy of Dolphins-Colts finish Sunday, instant replay also reversed Roe v. Wade.)
As always, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only:
* Colts (-3) at Jets: My Wife Of The Moment, Rhonda, believes the Colts are too shoddy in pass defense to gallop ingloriously into Super Bowl XXXIV. The Man hates when his woman doesn't believe. . . . World population just topped 6 billion. And Rick Mirer still can't find any of them open. Pick: Colts.
* Packers (-3 1/2) at Broncos: After Thursday practice, Brett Favre had himself tied and locked into a packing case, which was bound by steel tape and dropped into Green Bay. He appeared on the surface of the water in 59 seconds and immediately threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Freeman. Pick: Packers.
* Cowboys (-3 1/2) at Giants: You know how sometimes you look down at the sidewalk and see an ant struggling mightily to carry a crumb back to his anthill? That's pretty much the view fans have at the Meadowlands watching the Giants' offense heading toward midfield. Pick: Cowboys.
* Browns at Jaguars (-17 1/2): If there's no there there in Oakland (as Gertrude Stein once famously said), there's no anywhere anywhere in Jacksonville. On a semi-related note, Cleveland will find itself nowhere near nowhere good in Jacksonville. Pick: Jaguars.
* Seahawks (-2) at Chargers: Actual Fact: Holdout Seahawks WR Joey Galloway is playing quarterback in a flag football league in Wheeling, W. Va. And he still complains he doesn't get the ball enough. Pick: Chargers.
* Dolphins at Patriots (-2 1/2): Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese's career was extended by at least five years when Foxboro Stadium created NFL's first combined smoking lounge/coaches' box. Pick: Patriots.
* Titans (-3) at Saints: Not only did Titans amass NFL-record 212 yards in penalties against Ravens, but afterward 19 of their starters jaywalked across Highway 70. Pick: Titans.
* Panthers at 49ers (-5): Embarrassing Moment: At 49ers' monthly "Las Vegas Night" Tuesday, Bill Walsh yelled out, "Bingo!" when he didn't have one. Pick: Panthers.
* Redskins (-3 1/2) at Cardinals: To shore up defense, Redskins just hired Bill Arnsparger. What, Jim Lee Howell wasn't available? Pick: Cardinals.
* Vikings (-3 1/2) at Lions: If Minnesota doesn't score 24 points this week, The Man will endorse Jesse Ventura. Pick: Vikings.
* Steelers (-5) at Bengals: Sadly, Bruce Coslet's Bengals offense is based loosely on a pyramid scheme. Pick: Steelers.
* Raiders at Bills (-3 1/2): Trying to tackle Doug Flutie is like trying to step on a water bug. Pick: Bills.
* Eagles at Bears (-7): After Cowboys game, Eagles fans heckled residents at nearby homeless shelter. Pick: Eagles.
* Rams (-6) at Falcons: NFL Films has unearthed videotape of Kurt Warner's UFO landing in late August. Pick: Falcons.
Last week: 7-7.
Season record: 29-38-5.