Thursday, March 09, 2000

Boomer fired from Monday Night Football

But Bengals not in his plans

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Don't look for Boomer Esiason to return to the Bengals as Akili Smith's backup now that the former Bengals quarterback is looking for a job.

        Speaking from his Long Island home Wednesday night, hours after ABC fired him as the Monday Night Football analyst, Esiason wouldn't rule out playing again after a two-year layoff.

        “But it would have to be a significant offer in just the right situation, and the Bengals aren't the right situation,” said Esiason, whose last NFL pass went for a 77-yard touchdown to Darnay Scott in the 1997 finale.

        “And I've been telling people that (Bengals President) Mike Brown still has my rights, and I just don't think he's going to give them up.”

        When the Bengals couldn't agree on a new contract after Esiason went 4-1 as a starter in the last five games of the '97 season, he retired with a year left on his contract and went to the Monday Night booth.

        But he never had football out of his mind amid unconfirmed reports that said he contemplated a return last season. Esiason laughed when asked if he'd come back for the one-year, $800,000 pact that reportedly has been offered to Scott Mitchell.

        “I'm not coming back for that,” said Esiason, who turns 39 next month. “It's going to have to be a lot more than that. I've got a good life now. I've already had eight (other) TV and radio offers.”

        Of Esiason's firing, ABC sports president Howard Katz told The Associated Press: “There was a sameness. I feel we have to figure out how to make it special again. It has to be a big event again. There was nothing wrong.” Last season, MNF's rating and share were the lowest ever.


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