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Miller's remarks don't go by the (Ouija) boards


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 10, 2000

Dennis Miller came dressed for the occasion. Too bad Keyshawn Johnson didn't.

The comedian-turned-analyst geared up the Monday Night Football broadcast with a poke at Johnson, the Bucs receiver known as much lately for his mouth as his playmaking, and his relationship with former Jets teammate Wayne Chrebet.

Miller started by praising Johnson, then said the only thing he can't understand is why Johnson "continues to disparage" Chrebet. As Miller was saying he wouldn't hold it against Johnson and would try to be unbiased, he took off his shirt and tie to reveal a Jets jersey with CHREBET on the back.

The joke fell flat, but Miller bounced back -- unlike Johnson, who never seemed to recover from a fumble in the first minute that led to a Vikings touchdown. MNF's Melissa Stark said Johnson blamed a shirt for the fumble. Not Miller's, but his own skin-tight long-sleeved white one (cameras later showed Johnson's sleeves being cut off).

It was Johnson this, Johnson that on Monday night, even though Jacquez Green clearly upstaged his teammate. ABC obviously expected Johnson to have a big game, and when he didn't, Miller, Dan Fouts and Al Michaels talked about him anyway, during the game and at the half.

Especially Miller.

"Keyshawn," Miller said, "wants less Steckel and more passes his way."

Instead, the passes to Green continued to pile up. Miller predicted problems if the pattern continued: "Keyshawn is going to simply find it untenable if Jacquez Green becomes the go-to guy."

Miller is settling into his role on MNF, spending a little less time trying to be funny and more time actually adding to the broadcast. In the first half, for example, he mentioned the Vikings' weak run defense and said it was time for the Bucs to take advantage. On the next play, Mike Alstott broke away for a first down.

"See?" Fouts said. "This guy knows football."

"Danny, move," Miller said, "you're sitting on my Ouija board."

Okay, so he's still funny.

More Millerisms:

He dubbed kicker Martin Gramatica "little Andy Garcia" and as Gramatica lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt -- indoors, of course -- joked about the winds "swirling here at the "Stick."

On Tampa Bay's failure, in its 24 years of existence, to return a kickoff for a touchdown: "Nobody stops Tampa Bay 1,448 times in a row. Nobody."

With the Bucs trailing 20-13 in the third quarter, Miller correctly foresaw a momentum change. He just didn't see the one that came after the Bucs took the lead. "I think (the Bucs) get stronger as the boxing match goes on, and this is what happens," Miller said. "They wear you down."

Maybe it's time to stop consulting that Ouija board.

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