Every once in a great while, yours truly takes the liberty of writing a post that has very little to do with sports. This would be one of those occasions. That's because I was a long-time huge fan of Jay Leno. His last go-round on the Tonight show aired earlier this evening and, even though this is a sports blog, I would feel remiss if I didn't honor Jay Leno in my own way.
Sure, I was skeptical when he took over for Johnny Carson back in 1992. Carson was an incredibly talented man in numerous ways, and no way could anybody replace him. But somehow Leno hit the ground running, found his own niches, and 22 years later does anybody seriously doubt he was a huge success himself?
From Presidents, to various celebrities, to athletes (ha, a sports reference, lol), to various other newsworthy people -- and even the everyday John and Jane Does -- Leno had a way of treating them all the same while they were on his show. Everybody got spoofed, but it was always in a good-natured way.
Anybody going on his show knew they were going to get teased, but they'd have a great time yukking it up while it was going on, and couldn't wait to come back for another appearance at a future date. Such things as race, gender, political persuasion, age, religion, and any other normally "hot-button" topic you can think of, were of no concern to Leno. Everybody was fair game in his own tongue-in-cheek way -- and they loved every minute of it.
I would submit that will be Jay Leno's legacy. Only he could spoof someone on national TV, and have the other person craving even more.
Now it's on to Jimmy Fallon. But NBC was pretty slick in how they handled this. Fallon's first Tonight show won't air until Feb. 17. In the meantime, NBC will be all over covering the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia during this time slot. Needless to say, the Olympics are not only a big deal for the athletic competition, but definitely a ratings grabber in the TV world. Hundreds of millions of people will be tuned in to NBC from around the globe to watch the Games.
I suspect NBC is hoping Jimmy Fallon can ride the wave of the Olympics in the ratings world, and get off to a running head start himself.
Perhaps Fallon will indeed follow up Leno, much like Leno eventually did Carson, and become a huge success in his own right, finding his own niches.
We shall see.
But for now, thank to Jay Leno for all the laughs over the last 22 years. Between classic cars and motorcycles, I know he has a whole lot of fancy rides he can tool around in at his leisure.
Yet those 22 years were quite the ride itself for those of us that he entertained.
Goodbye and God bless.