Monday night goes hardcore

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

Monday Night Football just got scary.

That's what happens when Chucky gets into the booth.

After years of getting yuks from the third man, football's most sacred team is going back to serious business.

So enter Jon Gruden, the expressive former head coach of Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders.

With Gruden and the extremely detailed ex-quarterback Ron Jaworski breaking down the action with play-by-play man Mike Tirico, viewers can expect nothing but hardcore football talk during MNF's 40th season.

"This is a great booth," ESPN/ABC senior co-ordinating producer Jay Rothman said. "We're getting back to basics in delivering hardcore X-O football, which is what the fans want.

"We have two dynamic football guys in Jaws and Jon Gruden to deliver that. We have a tremendous cutting-edge toolbox to document the game in terms of cameras and technology."

MNF isn't the only team getting a replacement in the booth, but NBC's new man is more familiar to his new gig.

Cris Collinsworth, the four-time 1,000-yard receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals, replaces the legendary John Madden on Sunday Night Football.

NBC is taking Bob Costas on the road this season to the site of each game broadcast, while Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann reunite for the panel back in New York.

Rothman hopes the teaming of Jaws and Gruden will provide the entertainment with their alternate approaches to the game the way Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson differ in NBA broadcasts.

So far, Jaworski likes the combination through the preseason.

"I've learned more about football in the last three months than I did in the previous 10 years," Jaworski said. "I love working with Jon because he challenges everything. He makes me better. He makes our booth better. He makes our entire Monday Night Football team better."

Gruden isn't the only change on MNF and in the national NFL broadcasts overall.

Monday Night Football is bringing back Frank Gifford to help deliver classic moments as the program celebrates 40 years.


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