When I was growing up, Tony Kornheiser was one of my favorite columnists in the Washington Post. I still enjoy his offseason local radio show, and I think he and Michael Wilbon are terrific on Pardon the Interruption. But his tenure as Monday Night Football announcer has been … rocky, to say the least. When he finished taping PTI today, I had a chance to ask him a few quick questions on his way back to the green room about covering his former hometown beat and dealing with criticism.
You’re a storyline guy — a former columnist, you seem to like applying a story to each game you cover. So what’s the storyline for tonight’s game?
It’s different for me, because I’m from here. So my knowledge of the Redskins is deeper than somebody else’s. So for me it’s about Jim Zorn. In the same way that Aaron Rodgers was the most scrutinized player in the league, coming in for Brett Favre like that, Zorn is the most scrutinized coach. Because Zorn was given a playoff team, and that was highly unusual. He’s the only new coach that was handed a playoff team.
But I think Tirico and Jaws, that their deal is essentially “can this defense stop Portis?” I think they think in those terms, but that’s really hardcore football for me.
Does being from this area make it easier or tougher on you, covering the game for a national audience?
I think everybody sort of says, “Enough already, shut up already. Enough with Zorn! All you want to talk about is Zorn.” I’ve got like 97 things I want to talk about with Zorn – like the skepticism when he was hired and all of that, and how he turned all that around… and I don’t think anyone wants to listen to me. I think they just want me to shut up. Which I understand.
How do you handle things like that? How do you deal with a bunch of people very vocally not liking what you’re doing?
I cash the checks.
I mean, look, a lot of people don’t like my work, a lot of people do like my work. I don’t read the criticism. I know that athletes say that, but I really don’t read it. I even tell my children, do not tell me about anything written about me, good or bad. Because I don’t want to have to hate people. People who are my friends, and they’re ripping me, I don’t want to have to hate them as a result of that.
So I actually don’t read it.