Al Michaels won't be sticking around Monday nights this fall.
ESPN let the veteran play-by-play announcer out of his contract to continue as the voice of Monday Night Football when it moves from ABC next season and yesterday announced a new three-man team for the booth - Mike Tirico on play-by-play, joined by ex-quarterback Joe Theismann and Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser.
"Al let us know he was not comfortable with our vision in what we were doing," John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president for content, said in a teleconference yesterday.
Skipper didn't provide any details on the timing of Michaels' departure - which also means he is immediately being replaced by Mike Breen on ABC's NBA games - nor did he say whether any kind of financial settlement was involved.
In recent weeks, published reports said Michaels - the voice of Monday Night Football since 1986 - had changed his mind about staying with MNF and he would instead be headed to NBC as the play-by-play man on its new Sunday night NFL package, where he would continue to team with his ABC Monday partner, John Madden. There was no announcement yesterday from NBC.
The Associated Press reported that it was unable to contact Michaels or NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol.
MNF will return to a three-man crew for the first time since 2001, when Michaels teamed with former quarterback Dan Fouts and comedian Dennis Miller. Kornheiser was considered for the job when ABC picked Miller in 2000. The Michaels-Fouts-Miller team lasted two seasons, but was generally panned.
Kornheiser co-hosts ESPN's Pardon The Interruption and has a two-hour morning talk show on Washington all-sports radio station WTEM (980 AM).
"I've got about 27 gigs right now," Kornheiser said. "I got radio. I got television. I got The Washington Post. ... I would do anything I could to remain affiliated with [the Post]."
As part of the MNF arrangement, Kornheiser and his co-host, fellow Post columnist Michael Wilbon, will broadcast Pardon The Interruption from the Monday night site each week.
"I'm still in denial that I have this job," Kornheiser said. " ... The things I'm worried about most of all are actually traveling to the games since I don't like to fly, and staying up throughout the whole game."
Asked the last time he stayed up past midnight, Kornheiser said: "It's got to be right around my bar mitzvah."
Former players and coaches populate network broadcast booths for NFL telecasts, not sportswriters. That shouldn't matter, however, Skipper said.
"We're not bound by conventional wisdom, first of all," he said. "And second, if you started with a list of people who have been most influential on Monday Night Football, I don't know if he'd be at the very top, but he'd be right there in the top two or three, and that was Howard Cosell. Last time I checked, he didn't play either."
Theismann said: "I think Tony also being a writer and being around the game brings a very different perspective. ... On the outside watching the game and covering the game, you see it in a different light."
Plus, Kornheiser said, he can relate to the people watching at home.
"This could be a shocker," he said, "but I think most of the audience didn't play in the NFL."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.