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ESPN SACKS THEISMANN, ADDS JAWORSKI TO MNF.

Byline: TOM HOFFARTH

Staff Writer

If a lack of chemistry between Joe Theismann and the crew on ESPN's first season of "Monday Night Football" was ultimately the reason why the network sacked the former NFL quarterback/game analyst in a move that was officially announced Monday, executive producer Norby Williamson wasn't saying.

The fact Williamson contends the network still wants to keep Theismann on staff in some capacity, without being specific as to what that might be, will only cause more speculation as to what ultimately was behind the decision to replace him with another former NFL quarterback, Ron Jaworski, in the booth with Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser.

"Chemistry is just a term that's thrown around a lot," Williamson, ESPN's executive VP for studio and remote production, said on a conference call with reporters Monday. "We're looking at where we want to take the show. It's a game first, and there are other elements. We believe Ron has had those opportunities to prepare to take this (show) where we want to do.

"Theismann did everything we asked of him. I thought he got along well with Tony. Hopefully he'll continue to be in a prominent football position with the company. But for Monday Night Football to get to where we want it to go, this was the enhancement we felt will help us get there."

Theisman has been an ESPN analyst since 1988. Jaworski joined ESPN two years later in the capacity of reporter and studio analyst on various shows.

The wildcard in the mix has been Kornheiser, the former Washington Post columnist and current co-host of ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption." Kornheiser, added to the "MNF" booth with Tirico and Theismann after it changed over from ABC to ESPN, had his moments but was seen to have less of an opportunity to talk with Theismann's overbearing presence.

Williamson asked Jaworski if he was interested in the job during halftime of an Arena Football League game last Thursday in Philadelphia, where Jaworski is team president and minority owner of the Soul. After Jaworski accepted, Theismann was then told of the decision Friday.

Jaworski is a frequent guest on "PTI" during the NFL season and has known Kornheiser for more than a decade.

"I think in our role, people will see how well we do get along," Jaworski said.

thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 27, 2007
Words:394
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