Sunday, June 25, 2000

Football rants lure for un-fan

        I might tune in Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football this fall. He's very funny. And — who knows? — maybe some chilly evening I will be sprawled on the couch and realize there is not a single book in the house I have not read.

        I might hit the ON button and discover my network choices include a rerun of A Very Brady Christmas and a Dateline Investigation into “slightly irregular” pantyhose. Maybe there's a St. Oprah special wherein she puts us in touch with a book, a shrink, a chef or a right-living movie star who will help us live correctly.

Rats, bugs and Hitler
        Let's say some of the other entertainment choices include people answering trivia questions to win a million dollars or people on a remote island who eat rats and bugs to win a million dollars. We are now a cable family, so I also have access to the History Channel (all Hitler, all the time), the Animal Channel (all crocodiles, all the time) and Nickelodeon (all Lucy, all the time).

  Did ABC Sports make the right decision in hiring comedian Dennis Miller for its Monday Night Football broadcasting team? If not, whom would you prefer?
        Perhaps I'll be surfeited with opportunities to view Back to the Future and The Karate Kid and Rocky in all their prequels and sequels. Maybe I just don't care what Joan Rivers thinks of some starlet's evening bag.

        Then I might watch Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and comedian Dennis Miller, who comes out of left field. (As opposed to also-ran Rush Limbaugh, who would have come out of right field.)

        Really, I plan to check it out. Not for the football, which appears to be secondary. But for Dennis. He might even know something about football, although this is a skill I would not recognize.

News hottie
        ABC has been trying to put more entertainment into its football show. “I didn't enjoy watching Monday Night Football as a fan last year,” producer Don Ohlmeyer says. “What we're trying to do is make it relevant, accessible and unpredictable.”

        Sort of like the network's relevant, accessible and unpredictable casting of Titanic hottie Leonardo DiCaprio as their temporary White House correspondent. I can't wait to see The Nightly News with Whoopie Goldberg and Jim Carrey “reporting live from the Pentagon.”

        “I know football like a nerd,” Dennis Miller says. “I don't know what kind of intestinal fortitude it takes to go across the middle. So, I won't try to pontificate about what someone should or shouldn't do.”

        Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa. Go across the middle? This sounds like football talk to me. And since when did Dennis Miller think he needed to be able to do something to pontificate about it? He has never run for public office that I know of, but some of my favorite Weekend Update rants were about presidential politics.

        My brother Steven, who is a football junkie, has the preposterous belief that the people who generally watch Monday Night Football are people who want to see a football game. He thinks ratings are down from the Cosell years because sports fans have a lot of other ways to go into a sports trance — various ESPNs, not to mention Monday night wrestling. Those who still tune in are football fans.

        He says if there's too much blabbing and not enough football on Monday nights, he won't watch. Not me. I'm going to tune in to hear Dennis Miller.

        Unless he starts talking about football. Then I'll re-read Little Women or check CBS for rat recipes.

        WHAT DO YOU THINK: Did ABC Sports make the right decision in hiring Dennis Miller for Monday Night Football?

E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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