Why did Tony Kornheiser leave Monday Night Football?
The official reason for Tony Kornheiser’s exit from Monday Night Football is the analyst’s fear of flying. Kornheiser, who also hosts a radio show named after him and is co host of ESPN’s popular “Pardon the Interruption” program with Michael Wilbon, can frequently be heard complaining about his fear of plans, and relating anecdotes about his use of the anti anxiety drug Xanax to overcome this fear.
Many believe that ESPN wanted to go in a different direction with Monday Night Football, and cut a kind of shadowy “deal” with Kornheiser in which he could make it appear that he was stepping down. Fans of Monday Night Football were not exactly happy with Kornheiser’s work on the legendary football show, which was at times as bad as that of his fellow Monday Night Football alumnus Dennis Miller. Kornheiser simply couldn’t get along with the established Monday Night Football personalities.
Now, former NFL coach for the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jon Gruden will replace Tony Kornheiser this fall on ESPN’s broadcasts of Monday Night Football, the network announced on Monday.
Kornheiser is stepping down after three lackluster years in the Monday Night Football booth. In a statement released by ESPN announcing the move, Kornheiser cited his fear of flying and the increased need for him to travel via air this season as his reason for stepping aside. Famously, John Madden refuses to fly, and when he was an analyst for the NFL, he travelled the country by bus. Unfortunately, Kornheiser’s role at Monday NIght Football required much more cross country trips that simply wouldn’t give Kornheiser the time he would need to drive from game to game as well as continue hosting his popular radio and TV programs.
“My fear of planes is legendary and sadly true. When I looked at the upcoming schedule it was the perfect storm that would’ve frequently moved me from the bus to the air,” Kornheiser said in his statement.
Jon Gruden will join Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski on this season, which is the 40th season of Monday Night Football. many fans of Monday Night Football see the move as a positive one. Though Tony Kornheiser is a popular TV and radio host, his work on Monday Night Football was often overshadowed by difficulties relating to his co hosts. Kornheiser’s jokes fell flat, and he was fond of going on long winded rants about individual plays and players, something that the rapid fire format of Monday Night Football just won’t allow for.
In a statement about the move, Jon Gruden said the following: “I grew up a fan of Monday Night Football, and whether I’ve coached on Monday night or watched, I’ve hardly missed a game all these years. To join Mike and Jaws in the booth and to work alongside this top-notch team is going to be a real thrill.”
Gruden was a head coach in the National Football League for 11 seasons between the Raiders and Bucs. Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Bucs, making him at the time the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.
Tony Kornheiser will continue to appear on ESPN on “Pardon the Interruption”, and his recently resurrected radio show “The Tony Kornheiser Show” will air on XM Satellite Radio. The popular radio show has existed in one form or another since 1992.