Sunday, January 14, 2001

Sports on TV-Radio

Boomer back in the booth

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Boomer Esiason is the only man in America who was in the booth for Super Bowl XXXIV and will be in the booth for Super Bowl XXXV.

        Esiason had to go from television to radio to do the back-to-back trick, which is roughly the equivalent of going from Broadway to a dinner theater in Dubuque. But Esiason is happy as a radio guy - very happy.

        “This is like when I do my show on WLW with Cris (Collinsworth). I look forward to it,” he said. “I look forward to working with Howard David and Matt Millen every week.”

        Esiason, David and Millen, CBS Radio's Monday night crew, will do the Minnesota-New York Giants game today for CBS Radio (WCKY-AM 1360). They'll do the Super Bowl Jan.28. The Super Bowl will be Millen's swan song; he is moving on to be the president/GM of the Detroit Lions.

        Esiason said working with Millen and David has restored his faith in broadcasting.

        “It's been great,” he said. “It's everything I thought broadcasting would be.”

        The implication is that doing “Monday Night Football” for ABC wasn't.

        The MNF gig ended badly for Esiason. He was fired in March 2000. Esiason took some shots at Al Michaels, his partner on MNF, after the firing. The two still aren't on good terms.

        The whole experience left Esiason wondering if he wanted to return to the booth.

        “Joel Hollander, the president of CBS Radio (sports), called me up the day I got fired and offered me a job,” Esiason said. “Joel's been a friend of mine for 10 years. He use to be the GM at WFAN in New York. I told him I was going to think about it. After ABC hired Dennis Miller, I said, "Let's go for it.'”

        Esiason has been vindicated. The ratings for MNF were worse this year with Miller and Dan Fouts in the booth with Michaels.

        The radio trio clicked from start.

        “The chemistry was there from the first half of the first game,” producer Howard Deneroff said.

        Esiason signed for a year with an option for another. He has told Hollander he'll be back.

        Esiason could return to television next season. Millen did games on Fox on Sunday and the radio gig on Monday.

        Esiason hasn't heard anything from CBS or Fox yet. But Millen's departure opens up the No.2 spot at Fox.

        “I might go back for the right situation,” Esiason said. “I don't know if the opportunity will be there for me. I won't take (just) any job. I don't need the money. I don't need the exposure.”

        CHANGING STATIONS: Turfway Track Talk is going from WBOB-AM (1160) to WCKY-AM (1360). The show will air from noon to 1 p.m. during January, then go to 11 a.m. to noon beginning in February.

        KEN FROM ORLANDO: Ken Griffey Jr., probably the toughest athlete is town to get an interview with, phoned in to Wildman Walker's show on HOMER Thursday.

        ESPY NOMINEE: Corey Dillon is among the nominees for an ESPN ESPY in the category “Record Breaking Performance of the Year.” Don't like his chances. Marion Jones, the winner of three Olympic gold medals, is also up in category.

        The ESPY Awards are Feb. 12 at 9 p.m. In case you weren't counting, these will be the ninth ESPYs.

        John Fay covers radio/TV sports for the Enquirer. He can be reached at (513) 768-8445.

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