Flight-Fearing Tony Kornheiser Leaving Monday Night Football

Citing his fear of flying, analyst steps down from MNF after three years, will be replaced by Jon Gruden

By Natalie Finn May 18, 2009 9:17 PMTags
Tony Kornheiser, John GrudenESPN; G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

The Tony Kornheiser era is already over thanks to the one thing he couldn't get his mind around—his fear of flying.

ESPN announced Monday that the esoterica-spewing sports analyst will not be returning to Monday Night Football this season after spending three years in the booth alongside Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann (2006) and Ron Jaworski (2007-08).

Joining Jaworski and play-by-play guy Tirico will be Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden, who was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January.

"I am totally grateful for the MNF opportunity that I truly enjoyed the last three seasons," Kornheiser said in a statement. "I feel we got better each year. My fear of planes is legendary and sadly true. When I looked at the upcoming schedule it was the perfect storm that would've frequently moved me from the bus to the air. I kept looking at the schedule the past month and wanted to find a way to quietly extricate myself."

The 40th season of MNF kicks off Sept. 14 with a doubleheader featuring New England vs. Buffalo and San Diego vs. Oakland. Gruden, who of course is totally psyched by this "tremendous opportunity," was the Raiders' coach from 1998 to 2001.