BRISTOL, Conn. — Former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden is replacing Tony Kornheiser on ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast team. Kornheiser cited a fear of flying in his decision to leave after three years.
The network said today that Gruden will be in the booth with Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski when the show starts its 40th season this fall.
"If I could handpick a replacement of a football guy, I would cast a net and drag in Jon Gruden," Kornheiser said in a statement released by the network. "He is the two things you most want — smart and funny — and has the two things I don't — good hair and a tan."
Gruden led the Bucs to the 2003 Super Bowl title but was fired after this past season after his team lost four straight games to miss the playoffs. He worked as a guest analyst this year with the NFL Network during the draft and scouting combine.
"To join Mike and Jaws in the booth and to work alongside this top-notch team is going to be a real thrill," Gruden said.
Gruden will make his debut with ESPN with a preseason game on Aug. 13, a Super Bowl rematch between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Kornheiser will continue to appear on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," and is relieved it doesn't require air travel.
"My fear of planes is legendary and sadly true," he said. "When I looked at the upcoming schedule it was the perfect storm that would've frequently moved me from the bus to the air."
Gruden was an NFL head coach the past 11 seasons, with the Buccaneers (2002-08) and Oakland Raiders (1998-01). He had a 100-85 record, leading his teams to five division titles.
His best season came in 2002, when the Buccaneers went 12-4 and then beat the Raiders 48-21 in the Super Bowl. Gruden was 38 at the time and the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl. Gruden began his NFL coaching career in 1990 when San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Holmgren hired him as an assistant. When Holmgren was hired to coach the Packers in 1992, Gruden became his wide receivers coach.
After three seasons, Gruden went to the Eagles as an offensive coordinator, and in 1998 became coach of the Raiders at 34.