Kornheiser on my screen. Kornheiser in my dreams. Kornheiser on my fantasy football team? If there's one figure in sports broadcasting who has trumped the competition over the past two months, it's ESPN's newest Monday Night Football commentator. On the heels of his regular-season debut, we offer the All-Kornheiser Media Power Rankings for August-September.
1. Tony Kornheiser, analyst
TonyKornheiser's regular-season debut featured everything you expected: He was part wiseguy ("Why is he hurdling?" he asked of Vikings tight end Jermaine Wiggins. "Does he think this is a steeplechase?"), part private eye (we can all rest easy knowing the whereabouts of former Oilers quarterback Bucky Richardson) and part shy guy (he let Joe Theismann dominate the analysis). The occasional Washington Post columnist benefited from the game being in his backyard as well as an exciting finish. How does one judge success? If it's chemistry between boothmates, it's way too soon to tell, but the trio certainly seemed to mesh. If success is based on ratings, MNF on cable won't top the network numbers, and I'll contend that Kornheiser won't add a single additional viewer (remember: Monday NightFootball's ratings dropped during JohnMadden's tenure) beyond opening night. So let's judge him strictly on delivering information and entertainment. He gets a B for both. Solid debut.
2. Bill Hofheimer, ESPN communications department
We all know that behind every great man is a great woman. But in the age of Kristin Cavallari and Paris Hilton, here's a better maxim: Behind every popular media personality is a terrific publicist. Bill Hofheimer has been pitching Kornheiser as a story subject for months, and if you judge a man on column inches, Hofheimer deserves an immense raise or at least his own show on ESPNU.
3. Paul Farhi, Washington Post style writer
Here's how Paul Farhi opened his critique of Kornheiser on Aug. 15 in TheWashington Post: "Tony Kornheiser played it safe in his Monday Night Football announcing debut last night, making few missteps but offering little for the highlight reel. It wasn't exactly clear at times why he was there at all. It's still early, as the coaches like to say. But on the basis of his first preseason game, Kornheiser, the Post sports columnist and co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, wasn't many of the things that ESPN hired him for. He wasn't especially witty, provocative or insightful." That's bold stuff, given Kornheiser's Made Man status at the Post. Farhi has had fun with his newfound fame -- the number of Google hits when you type in his name has soared to more than 400,000 -- and his piece has spawned a cottage industry of follow-up pieces in the Post. Despite a maxim to the contrary, nothing thrills people in the press more than reading about themselves. Which brings us to ...