Gotta say, I think the idea of putting Dennis Miller in the MNF booth is inspired. After the dreadful, boring, please-god-somebody-stop-this plodding commentary from Boomer Esiason, the biting wit is welcome.
Perhaps most important, this news has inspired my first Bold Prediction(tm) of 2000.
It's July 31. The regular NFL season is still a month away, but that doesn't keep the new Monday Night Football troika of Al Michaels, Dan Fouts, and Dennis Miller from plying their trade. The annual Hall of Fame game is in full swing, and in typical MNF fashion, the match is out of hand early. Mid-way through the second quarter, the New England Patriots have opened a cavernous lead over the lost-looking 49ers.
But the game is in full swing up in the booth. Al Michaels is in mid-season form, wildly over-enunciating and stretching his vowels like carnival taffy. "Wow, third and ten and Rich Garcia rifles a pass to the incomparable Jerry Rice, who moooves the ball over 40 yard line for a first down."
Dan Fouts bobs his head and grins in silent supplication. But Dennis Miller, who has been fidgeting and snorting all night at Michaels' sycophantic praise, has heard enough. "Oh come on, Al, get off of it. Jerry Rice looks like Jerry Lewis out there. There are no Patriot starters on the field. The guy is running routes against two undrafted free agents, a four-foot midget, and a retired cable installer. Dean Martin after a night at the gin bottle could have made that catch."
There's a long silence and the sound of a loud, angry sigh as the camera shows the 49ers breaking their huddle. "Dennis, I've been watching this game for many, many years. And I can tell you that Jerry Rice is the best to play the game. Period. There's not a receiver in the league that can approach his achievement, his dedication, and his incredible strength of character."
There's more silent nodding from the bobbing-headed Fouts doll and what sounds like a cackle from Miller. "Oh, that's great…. dad. I'm sure Jerry ran all his routes uphill both ways in knee deep snow. But I think we both know the truth about Jerry. He's one done bowl of Rice. Stick a chopstick in him and get over it. The 49ers are killing themselves by keeping this piece of over-aged roster lint."
Viewers can't see it, but they do hear the sound of Miller giving Michaels a hearty slap on the back as he finishes his tirade. There's a brief scuffle as Michaels pushes Miller away, causing both to tumble right into Dan Fouts' lap.
The air over Canton turns blue with obscenity as Michael's goes berserk, whipping Miller over the head with a pair of headphones and threatening to kill any ABC staffer who tries to intervene. Unfortunately for the network, the guys in the broadcast van are too busy playing speed quarters to notice that the predictable MNF banter has given way to mayhem. By the time they yank the feed, the network has burned through its 7-second tape delay and exposed America to a full 14 seconds of glorious, unadulterated, booth-bound mayhem.
It is, perhaps, ABC Sports' the finest moment. Despite being a woefully played, early-preseason game, the Hall of Fame broadcast boasts the highest ratings in Monday Night Football history. Ever. In New York, Fox Sports and XFL lord Vince McMahon are livid. MNF has stolen the booth battle schtick before the new league can even get on the air. The infringement lawsuits would clog the courts a full six years after the XFL itself closed shop in 2002.
For Al Michaels, the 2000 season becomes a tour de force. By week 3 of the regular season, Dennis Miler has had enough. And for the rest of the year, Michaels smacks down a parade of uppity comedians and celebrities. Chris Rock, Sam Kinison, Denis Leary, Don Imus, Martin Lawrence, and Ellen DeGeneres all fall victim to Michael's taffy-tongued diatribes and whip-fast elbows. In week 10 in Green Bay, an inspired Michaels parodies the Lambeau Leap by tossing the lifeless body of David Spade into the stadium seats after a Packers' touchdown. But the crowning moment comes the next week when Michaels electrocutes Carrot Top during the third-quarter of a penalty-filled Oakland-Denver matchup.
And that's the way I see it...