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updated: 11/6/2021 8:11 AM

Jim O’Donnell: Bears viewers must get past ‘The Great Wall of Levy’ on "Monday Night Football"

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  • ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcaster Steve Levy walks on the field during warm-ups before the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts played earlier this season.

    ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcaster Steve Levy walks on the field during warm-ups before the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts played earlier this season.
    Associated Press/Oct. 11, 2021


THE FIRST APPEARANCE of the Bears on "Monday Night Football" was October 5, 1970.

Keith Jackson, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell called the griddy pantomime.

Mike Hull led Jim Dooley's wayward Monsters in rushing with 21 yards. Jack Concannon added 140 through the air.

The Bears blew a 7-0 halftime lead. Joe Schmidt and the homies won, 28-14.

"MNF" was a new American television phenomenon, soon to be almost as big as "Marcus Welby, M.D."

Meredith and Cosell were already bigger than most games and certainly that one.

United Auto Workers meetings in Livonia were bigger than that one.

MONDAY NIGHT IN PITTSBURGH, the nation's increasingly Ginsu-ed video loaf will want more when Justin Fields and the Bears visit Heinz Field.

Many will certainly want more than the current ESPN / ABC broadcast trio -- Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick.

Griese and Riddick are the analysts. They're earnest, informed fellows.

And they also sound way too much alike.

So much so that Griese -- bless 'im -- has taken to opening some of his comments by saying, "You know, Louis ..."

At least that shows the sort of ingenuity having a father with a degree from Purdue can generate.

AS FOR LEVY, his presence trolls the shallow waters from "annoying" to "irksome."

Somewhere along the line, he must have been in a Toastmasters International session where the day's touchpoint was: "'More robust' equals 'more profound.'"

He is the double "L" in the free fall of quality at ESPN.

For Chicago faithful who still watch NFL games in real time, there has never been a better night to opt out for a house call like that of Jeff Joniak and the supremely verbose Tom Thayer on WBBM-AM (780).

It is a house call that even Marcus Welby, M.D., would likely sign off on.

FAR TOO GOOD from Jim Souhan of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

"Big news in the NFC North -- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will miss at least 10 days because he's unvaccinated and Bears coach Matt Nagy will return from COVID protocols, damaging both teams' chances of winning this week."

The beat-up Bears pushed from plus-5 to only plus-6 ½. The suggestion is that something "very pixie" could be in the autumn air on the North Shore of the Allegheny.


Yes, the Bulls are fun to watch again. And yes, DeMar DeRozan is an alpha NBA force -- at least in regular-season games. But no, Zach LaVine has yet to shed his "flashy scorer who should be traded" tag. He remains Reggie Theus without the silver screen good looks or uber theatrical charisma. ...

Dave Eanet confirmed that the "Hamp and O'B" yowler will be on before and after the Bears-Steelers Monday nighter. (Does Bob Sirott fully realize what ambient assets he has in Eanet and Dean Richards? Now if WGN-AM (720) chief Mary Sandberg Boyle could only elevate the rest of the legacied station's dead daytime programming.) ...

Some absolutely marvelous column writing by Brandon Veale of The Duluth (Minn.) News-Tribune on residuals from the Blackhawks abuse scandal. Veale was sports editor of The Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton, Mich., when disgraced video coach Brad Aldrich was committing his first criminal offense of record. (Google appropriate words.) ...

Hawk-eyed Connie Kowal notes that Hoffman Estates High grad Sal Fasano (Class of '89) just picked up his first World Series ring as catching coach of the Braves. Sharper MLB media have long maintained that Fasano -- the son of Vince and Nellie Fasano -- is one of the most affable people in the game. ...

That press box cadre of Jed Hoyer apologists is sincere. But too many have also been around the privileged areas of Wrigley Field for too long and have lost their objectivity. (Does anyone remember, "The future is now?") ...

WMVP-AM (1000) is supposed to be rudderless. But the Good Karma Brands meanderer continues to close the audience gap on slumbering WSCR-AM (670). Whoever thought whimsical Jonathan Hood would be part of "The Answer?" ...

Suburban-based organic food baron Bill Weiland made Mickey Johnson's Halloween at a recent Bulls game when he reminded the Aurora College alum of the night be blocked a Julius Erving tomahawk try. Johnson's feet had to be tethered to the floor of the suite for the rest of the evening. ...

All-time NBAer Brian McIntyre -- one of the greatest sports media relations experts in the history of the genre -- is on the mend at his New Rochelle, N.Y., estate. (It's just down the parkway from where Rob and Laura Petrie lived.)

There was a good reason new DePaul HC Tony Stubblefield and his men's team played tiny Montevallo (Ala.) in its sole exhibition game -- it's the alma mater of first-year Blue Demons athletic director DeWayne Peevy. (Stubblefield took his foot off the gas in a 67-63 tuneup.) ...

Resilient Rocky Lombardi and Northern Illinois continue to forge through a November filled with nothing but midweek night games vs. visiting Ball State Wednesday (ESPN2, 6 p.m.). Thomas Hammock and the resourceful Huskies cling to first-place in the MAC-West. ...

From where-the-buffalo-roam, why does Troy Aikman turn "hard" into a two-syllable word? That reminds of when the great Bob Lilly -- "Mr. Cowboy" -- was filming a razor commercial and required repeated takes because he kept pronouncing "doesn't" as "dudn't." ...

And heat-seeking Taylor Bell, on David Kaplan's recent 25-minute bio-drone at The Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame dinner: "He probably had to keep reminding everybody that he still works in Chicago."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at