ESPN’s decision to make Tony Kornheiser part of its Monday Night Football team wasn’t the first time the Washington Post columnist was considered for the job. In 2000, before ABC hired Dennis Miller, Kornheiser was the bridesmaid, although TV executives thought Kornheiser was the closest living twin to Howard Cosell, whose candor and brashness helped shape Monday Night Football as a television classic.
Like Cosell, Kornheiser is opinionated, acerbic, witty, and argumentative. Also like Cosell, his knowledge base transcends sports. Cosell was a sports columnist for the New York Daily News, Kornheiser for Newsday before joining the Post.
Other similarities and differences:
Cosell wore a toupee. Kornheiser needs one.
Cosell made his career riding the fame of Muhammad Ali. Kornheiser has ridden the talent of Michael Wilbon.
Cosell was an Army major in World War II. On his TV show, Pardon the Interruption, Kornheiser often puts on a costume.
Cosell called himself “arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, and verbose.” Kornheiser is not considered cruel.
Cosell told listeners, “I tell it like it is.” Kornheiser tells his, “Always wear white.”
Cosell played himself in an episode of The Odd Couple in 1972. Kornheiser and Wilbon were an odd couple in the Bernie Mac movie Mr. 3000.
Cosell experienced life-changing emotions after covering the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Kornheiser’s life was changed when the Redskins won the Super Bowl, immortalizing Kornheiser’s “Bandwagon.”
Cosell once told Kornheiser, “To-ny, To-ny, To-ny, what are we to make of the National Football League now? They’re scampering for their boats like mice in a Farmer Gray cartoon. . . . Always good to talk with you, T.”
When Cosell died, Kornheiser wrote, “He carried a glow that always suited television. In his passing, the picture is already a little dimmer.”