Visser Sidelined for ABC's NFL Show

Thursday, June 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — Lesley Visser is out at ``Monday Night Football.''

The sideline reporter is being replaced after two seasons on ABC's NFL show, a network source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday.

ABC, determined to spice up a program with declining ratings, was set to name her replacement Thursday — along with who will join play-by-play announcer Al Michaels in the broadcast booth.

Housecleaning at ``Monday Night Football'' began in March, when analyst Boomer Esiason was fired and Don Ohlmeyer, the show's producer in the 1970s, was brought back.

Ohlmeyer vowed at the time to get viewers talking about the show the way they did when Howard Cosell and Don Meredith were on ABC's NFL team.

In looking for Esiason's replacement, Ohlmeyer considered people with and without experience in the booth, including bombastic talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

The ratings for ``Monday Night Football'' have slumped each of the past five seasons, from an average of 17.8 with a booth of Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Frank Gifford in 1994, to last season's record-low for the program of 13.7 with Michaels and Esiason.

Visser, who will remain at ABC, joined the network in 1994. She has covered a variety of sports, including college football, figure skating, baseball and thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown.

At the Belmont Stakes this month, Visser opened her talk with winning horse Commendable's owners by saying, ``Congratulations Bob and Beverly Lewis. How does this compare to your other Belmont wins?''

That drew an odd look from Bob Lewis, and the response, ``Other Belmont wins?'' The Lewises' horses Silver Charm (1997) and Charismatic (1999) went to Belmont with chances to win the Triple Crown, but lost.