- Network: ESPN
- Series Premiere Date: Sep 1, 1970
Summary: "Monday Night Football really got on the air because of Pete Rozelle," recalls former producer Don Ohlmeyer. Indeed, it was Rozelle's reputation for public relations and marketing that created a prime-time venue for the National Football League. The prototypes for Monday Night Football were those annual Monday night games staged from 1966 to 1969 inclusive on CBS. St. Louis hosted three of them, and it seemed natural for the NFL to make Monday night their regular turf. The only trouble was, Rozelle couldn't get a network to agree. CBS did not want to lose Gunsmoke. NBC had Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, TV's highest-rated show the past two years. Even ABC, floundering in third place in the ratings, was unsure. Rozelle then threatened to put the Monday night package in syndication via the Hughes Television Service. So ABC bought in. NFL owners themselves weren't keen on Monday Night Football. Some thought the gates would be dormant. But then-Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, who knew a thing or two about marketing himself, agreed to host the first MNF game. He asked that the Browns face the Jets to maximize ABC's first-night audience. The result was a smashing success. For 36 years, Monday Night Football would air on ABC at Mondays at 9pm ET/6pm PT ever since (except for when it aired at 8pm ET). Though two teams would always meet on the field, viewers often got their fill from watching the original ABC broadcasters. Don Meredith and Howard Cosell were, along with Keith Jackson, part of the original team that started in 1970. After Jackson returned full-time to ABC's college football broadcasts, the network hired Frank Gifford away from CBS. From there, Monday Night Football began its most memorable years. It got ratings thanks to the wide appeal that Cosell, Meredith, and Gifford collectively garnered. Except for a shift in the mid-70s that sent Meredith briefly to another network, ABC played a strong football card for twelve years. The separate departures of Meredith and Cosell left the Monday Night Football booth in a shaky transition period during the mid-80s. Though they sometimes got it right on the field, with the high-water mark being Miami's romping of the eventual Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears in 1985, it was plain that the booth could not work with three ex-players (what Howard Cosell had labeled "jockocracy"). The likes of Fred Williamson, O.J. Simpson, and Joe Namath were quickly disposed. The...
|Genre(s):||Sports, Sports, Talk & Interview|
|Seasons:||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44|