ESPN had to make a few changes to its Monday Night Football booth before finally finding the right chemistry with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden, and a new book about ESPN offers some intriguing details about just how tense the situation was in years past.
Specifically, former Monday Night Football commentator Tony Kornheiser told the author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN that Tirico sabotaged him when they were on-air partners.
“Look, I know that Mike Tirico is smart and funny and as quick if not quicker than I am,” Kornheiser said, via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. “I admire and respect him, but it killed me that he had none of that for me. After many conversations, I came to believe that he had little respect for sportswriters and remembers all the sportswriters who wrote bad s— about him. He loves it when sportswriters get something wrong. And I felt he put me in that group, because I’m part of them. It wasn’t that I was right and he was wrong. We just couldn’t agree.”
Kornheiser said he was upset enough about Tirico that he went to their bosses about it.
“I had a lot of conversations with [MNF executive producer Jay] Rothman and [network executive John] Walsh and some even with [network executive] Norby [Williamson], and I’ll admit I would get upset,” Kornheiser said. “I said, ‘He’s killing me, and it keeps happening.’ They would say, ‘We’ve talked to him, and it’s going to get better,’ but it never did. He was doing it deliberately; anybody with eyes could see it. He just wouldn’t engage me.”
Kornheiser also said he had trouble with the host of ESPN’s Monday Night Football studio show.
“The whole time I was on Monday Night Football, Chris Berman never mentioned my name. He loathes me, in part because of the stuff I used to write about him,” Kornheiser says in the book, via Michael McCarthy of USA Today.
For his part, Berman said in the book that he thinks Kornheiser took cheap shots at him. Sounds like Monday Night Football hasn’t been a particularly warm working environment.