There will be a new face featured on Monday Night Football telecasts for the upcoming NFL season, but it’ll be a far cry from the menacing scowl we’ve come to expect from former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden. “Chucky”, as Gruden has become known as for his intense facial expressions while pacing the sideline, will take over for Tony Kornheiser this year.
Kornheiser cited a fear of flying as his reason for leaving the show, but he may have been forced out due to off-the-cuff and ill-timed humor as well as little to no insight. With Gruden, ESPN will get a Super-Bowl-winning coach with great knowledge of the game who can bring a much-needed dimension to the broadcasts.
I’m intrigued by the addition for two reasons. First, I thought Gruden did an excellent job as an analyst for the NFL Network during the 2009 NFL Draft in April. Unlike Kornheiser, Gruden will bring a better physical appeal to the national audience, something Kornheiser mentioned in his departing remarks.
“If I could handpick a replacement of a football guy, I would cast a net and drag in Jon Gruden,” Kornheiser said. “He is the two things you most want — smart and funny — and has the two things I don’t — good hair and a tan.”
And the second reason I’m intrigued by the move is because it certainly doesn’t appear to be a permanent or long-term position. Fans of “Chucky” better enjoy the ride while it lasts, because I have a firm belief it could only be a one-year gig. Gruden is still widely respected around the league for his coaching abilities and should be a hot commodity next off-season. If I had to make a prediction, I’d say that by season’s end, the MNF trio will talk on air — if only just a hint — about coaching rumors containing Gruden’s name.
If nothing else, at least we can expect to hear less “forced humor” and Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers comparisons.