Well, the early reviews on Tony Kornheiser's debut on "Monday Night Football" are in ... and they're almost universally positive. Here's a sampling:
• New York Times: "Kornheiser, open-eyed, fit in well. He didn't sound scripted, and never appeared so eager to get his air time that he trampled on Joe Theismann's. He left the game-calling to Mike Tirico and the analysis to Theismann while carving out his natural territory as a snarky, but not irritating, commentator who will keep track of story lines and ask Theismann to explain terms like the silent snap count."
• Los Angeles Times: "And the star is newcomer Tony Kornheiser. He was the focal point of the telecast, and all things considered, he not only survived but was pretty good."
• Associated Press: "Tony Kornheiser had to be better than the short-lived sitcom loosely based on his life. And he was. Much better. And that's even putting aside such a low standard as 'Listen Up.'"
• USA Today: "He sounded like he'd done enough prep work to reasonably comment on what amounts to a glorified NFL practice. And Kornheiser was as good as the action itself."
As for us, we thought Kornheiser was good too, but what's really obvious is that this team is going to rise and fall by how much Kornheiser annoys Theismann. Honestly, these two are really not citizens of the same planet, and if the tension level can keep being elevated weekly from the point it was last night, Theismann's gonna have a Howard Beale moment. Kornheiser should go into every broadcast with the same mantra rattling around his head: "Annoy Theismann. Annoy Theismann. Annoy Theismann." We could have listened to the Bob Newhart/Bed And Breakfast "debate" for an hour. (Hey, Joe: He's kidding, you dolt.) Theismann appears more than willing (unable to stop?) to be baited by Kornheiser and that, friends, is what's going to make this team click.
You know all those things you've been wanting to scream at Theismann during his broadcasts all those years? Kornheiser's going to say them, it appears. Outstanding.
(UPDATE: Kornheiser's own paper is considerably less kind.)