Personal Assistant
Phil Mushnick-NY Post
October 19, 2007 -- LET'S try to get Monday Night Football on ESPN straightened out just one more time, then, I swear, I'm done. Perhaps.

It's real simple, fellas. The six of you - network president George Bodenheimer, VP of content John Skipper, MNF producer Jay Rothman and announcers Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser - each take a tape or DVD of last Sunday's telecast, or any recent MNF telecast, pop it into the machine, then sit down as most of us do - sit down to watch the game.

Next, look and listen, over the next three-plus hours, and gauge if ESPN helps or hinders that once-standard leisure time activity.

Listen. Hear that? And that? And that, and that, and that? Hear how every play is followed by talk, talk, talk and then more talk? An incomplete pass or a short run can't, once in a while, speak for itself?

Why must the end of every play signal the start of windy, tortured analysis, lines drawn by Telestrator, the appearance and discussion of silly stats, goofy gags, forced cross-promotions, stories about talking to the defensive coordinator before the game (which one doesn't think it's important to stop the run?), the arrival of another Disney character/guest (going to the Jimmy Kimmel once too often), a throw to Michele Tafoya or Suzy Kolber on the sidelines?

Or anything and everything else until viewers can no longer hear or see because their senses have been sizzled to goo then soldered shut?

MNF, on ESPN's watch, continues to be the most insufferable, big-ticket live game series in national TV history. Nothing else, try as it might, comes close. And Monday's Giants-Falcons was the latest must-see game delivered in a can't-stand package.

Come on, fellas, you guys are sports fans; be honest. You couldn't indulge such a telecast, let alone enjoy one. You can't tell us that you could sit through a tape of a MNF telecast, then declare, "Nice job," or, "I particularly like the way they don't intrude; the way they just let you watch the game."

You guys are no different from us. In your formative sports-fan years and many years beyond, you never tuned to a game in eager anticipation of having the network drown it, turn it into an endurance test on an obstacle course.

Try this, just for starters: Choose one play in every quarter and follow it with - ready? - nothing. Cameras stay on the field, no promos, no spinning graphics, no talking. One play, every quarter, just four plays out of every game. Just to let the game breathe a bit, to allow our abused senses some rest.

You guys are sports fans, like us. You can understand how nice that would be, can't you? After all, if the goal is to prove to the audience how hip ESPN is, why not take one of the network's most valued properties - Monday Night Football - and prove it?