Blog Entry

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

Posted on: February 15, 2012 9:04 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 1:01 pm
Ron Jaworksi gives up MNF but will  work on other projects at ESPN. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

On Wednesday, ESPN announced that Monday Night Football was switching to a two-man booth. The odd man out: Ron Jaworski, who had been an MNF staple for five years. Instead, Jaws, who just signed a five-year extension, will have a "new, expanded multiplatform analyst's role."

"With him doing one game each week, we don't necessarily believe we were getting the best Ron Jaworski had to offer to the network," executive vice president Norby Williamson said.

ESPN president John Skipper added: “I thank Ron for the great contributions he has made to Monday Night Football. With two strong analysts in Ron and Jon, these moves will better utilize their strengths and benefit our entire NFL presentation.”

The Jon mentioned above would be Jon Gruden, who remains in the booth with play-by-play man Mike Tirico.

It's a peculiar situation for a number of reasons, chief among them: Gruden could leave for a coaching job and Jaws just got a new deal. But three-man booths are notoriously tough to pull off (see Tony Kornheiser's stint on MNF) even if Tirico, Gruden and Jaworski made it look seamless and easy.

Jaws, speaking to Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, called the change "bittersweet" but said he was "excited and thrilled" about some other upcoming projects.

"I have an opportunity to do some things that can be creative, so in that regard I am excited about the future. The disappointment is I have worked with some incredible people, from Jay Rothman to [MNF director] Chip Dean to Mike Tirico to Jon Gruden and the entire crew that works on MNF. They are absolutely five star... Maybe it is a little bit of my makeup, but I have never been a guy to look back. I always thought it was a great thing for a quarterback to have amnesia. Forget the past and look to the future. It was an unbelievable experience to do five years of Monday Night Football."

Jaworski said that he was told of the decision Monday though he wasn't surprised. "Nothing comes as a surprise to you when you are in this business." 

One of those upcoming projects is a "QB Camp"-type show made popular by Gruden leading up to last year's draft. "I'm a football guy and I want to do more of that stuff," Jaworksi said.

Not sure why Jaws can't do both but this is a bottom-line business and sometimes the bottom line obscures what might be a good thing. Here's our theory on how things may have gone down. (And we can't stress this enough: this our a theory based on a hunch and not much else. We even talked about it on the latest Pick-6 Podcast.)

MNF isn't about appealing to football fans -- they're watching games no matter who's in the booth. MNF is entertainment -- it's about enticing non-football fans to tune in. That's why, several years ago, ESPN started bringing celebrities into the booth during the telecasts. The results ranged from boring to hilariously awkward.

Short of revisiting that debacle, maybe ESPN conducted focus groups and found that people with no interest in Xs and Os (or, more generally, football) liked Jaws the least. Again, this is just speculation ,but it certainly seems plausible given that ESPN is business of making money and the fastest way to do that is by increasing viewership. Or maybe the network really does plan to keep Jaws busy with all these new projects.

Whatever the reason the reality is this: Monday Night Football will be worse off without him.

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Since: Feb 11, 2012
Posted on: February 16, 2012 6:24 pm
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Since: Feb 11, 2012
Posted on: February 16, 2012 6:22 pm
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Since: Jul 26, 2009
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:42 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

I actually liked Jawarski on Monday Night Football along with Gruden and Trico.  Jawarski has a lot of football knowledge and it will be ineresting to see how the two man format works.

Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

Ron Jaworski, who had been anMNF staple for five years. Instead, Jaws, who just signed a five-year extension, will have a "."  That reads to me like "let's give him a new title that sounds sexy and exciting so he'll still feel wanted even though we want him off the Monday Night air. If anyone should go it should be Gruden.

Since: Feb 9, 2011
Posted on: February 16, 2012 1:04 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

Jaws was pretty good. I liked him.

Since: Jan 4, 2012
Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:32 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

The MNF announcers are among my least favorite football crews, bit I'd much rather Gruden leave than Jaworski.  Gruden makes too many mistakes and he compliments too many too often.  I like Gruden in his other venues where you see him get tough and ask the hard questions.   On the other hand, Jaworski and Tirico couldn't carry MNF on their on.  Man, I miss the OLD MNF days!

Since: Feb 16, 2012
Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:28 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

I thought Mr Jaworsky's obvious knowledge of the game got lost at times by his "over eager" presentation.  He seemed to me, at times, to get too pumped up about this skill or that skill for a given player.  When someone is overly positive most of the time, it gets old.  I often wondered if he had been coached to add more "zing" to his on-air persona.  Of course Gruden isn't much different in this regard.  It seems at times like more hype than objective analysis to me.  IMO.

Since: Mar 13, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:15 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

Jaworski was the more credible of the two football "analysts" and all over teams' tendencies and deficiencies, but was too "-est" in player evaluations, and with his voice inflection and "quavers" it sounded like he was k*ssing up and he carried too much air time [until the little cherub boy would toss in some inane comment every 20 minutes or so].

Frankly, the only one with Air Booth qualities and expertise is Tirico who must have cringed every pre-game.  ESPN doesn't seem to get it... along with a bafflingly poor schedule, the irritation of two out of three voices brought back the turn off the sound and turn on the radio days.

Frankly, I think ESPN is merely mailing in the MNF programming and skimming costs.

On the other hand, there is not a ebonics experiment going on here.     

Since: Feb 28, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:07 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

Too bad it's not Gruden leaving. Admittedly it's a personal pet peeve, but I can't stand Gruden constantly referring to players as "this" and "that". For instance,"This Cam Newton, he's something special."

Since: Dec 2, 2008
Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:03 pm

Ron Jaworski calls leaving MNF 'bittersweet'

He was the best one out of all three of them.  I can tolerate the other two, I just thought Jaws was the best one.

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