Despite the surfeit of spectacular games in the first 14 weeks of Monday Night Football, perhaps you've grown weary of play-by-play man Al Michaels and funnyman Dennis Miller vying to out-erudite one another. Moreover, there's still something of a forced amity among Michaels, Miller and analyst Dan Fouts. Where, you wonder, are all my rowdy friends?
On the radio, that's where.
Each Monday night Westwood One- CBS Radio Sports' three-man booth of play-by-play man Howard David and analysts Boomer Esiason and Matt Millen delivers the blend of insight and unforced camaraderie that MNF executive producer Don Ohlmeyer was shooting for when he hired Fouts and Miller last summer. For Esiason, who was fired last winter after two tumultuous years on MNF during which he drew the enmity of Michaels and became the primary scapegoat for the program's declining ratings, this has been a season of redemption. "We're just three guys who enjoy getting on each other's cases and having some fun," says Esiason, who joined a David-Millen duo that had worked together for three years. The trio is heard by about 10 million listeners on more than 470 stations nationwide. "I mean," adds Esiason, "you don't need a dictionary to cover an NFL game."
On the day that ABC fired Esiason last March, Westwood One president and CEO Joel Hollander offered him a job. "I told Joel the most important thing was to work with teammates who like me," says Esiason, who weighed the offer for four months before accepting. "From the first day I entered the booth, it has been that way."
Listening to Esiason on radio as opposed to his MNF days is akin to watching McLean Stevenson on M*A*S*H* versus Stevenson on Hello, Larry. Working in tandem, Esiason and Millen have been analytically sharp and have displayed an easy, joking rapport, especially when former quarterback Esiason chides beefy former linebacker Millen about his "search and destroy" mentality toward pregame buffets. "Chemistry is something you can't force," says David, "and maybe that's the difference between Boomer Esiason on Monday Night Football and the guy you hear with Matt and me."
Says Esiason, "I wasn't sure if this was such a good idea when I agreed to do radio. But now? This year has restored my faith in broadcasting."