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Monday Night Football is an NFL primetime program that was on ABC from it’s first program in 1970 till 2005 when ABC couldn’t get a new deal with the NFL. It now airs on ESPN since 2005. It’s very first game was on September 21, 1970 when the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 31-21.

Influential Games (Not in Order)

Note: There will be some games that was aired on ESPN (2005-present)

The very first game played on Monday Night Football was on September 21, 1970 when the Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 31-21. The broadcasters for the game was Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith who was considered the first Cowboys franchise player.

On December 8, 1980, the Dolphins beated the Patriots 16-13 in a late field goal. Sadly, it will be remembered for Howard Cosell announcing to millions of Americans that John Lennon had been murdered earlier the same morning.

On October 14, 2002, in a 28-21 game with San Fransisco winning against the Seattle Seahawks, 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens infamously got out a Sharpie out of his sock and signed a football he scored on one of his 2 touchdowns and gave it to a fan. Due to this, the NFL banned accessories during touchdown celebrations.

On January 3, 1983 on the final Monday Night Football game of the season, the Dallas Cowboys played the Minnesota Vikings during a player’s strike. Down 24-13, Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and the rest of the Cowboy’s offense lined up at their one yard line and ran it with Dorsett. Then, Dorsett ran all the way to a 99 yard touchdown. That run was the longest run from scrimmage in NFL history at that time until Derrick Henry from the Tennessee Titans ran the same amount of yards in a Thursday Night Football game on December 13, 2018. The Cowboys still lost that game 31-27.

On November 30, 1987 the Raiders went up against the Seahawks. Their running back Bo Jackson had played with the Kansas City Royals in the MLB and started since Week 7 after the end of the MLB season. He did average in his first couple of games but this game was his breakout game in the NFL. Jackson rushed 221 yards and scored three touchdowns, one which was 91 yards in a 37- 14 win for the Raiders.

On September 24, 2012 the Seahawks were playing the Packers. On June of the same year, the NFL referees were on strike. On the final play of the game, the Seahawks were down 12-7. Russell Wilson apparently threw it in the end zone but there was a missed pass interference with two Green Bay players but the referees called it a touchdown. The Seahawks than won by mistake 14-12. The game was then called the ‘Fail Mary’ game. Rodger Godell (commissioner of the NFL) then reached a deal with the referees to end the month long strike.

Commentators (All ABC)

Play By Play Announcers

Keith Jackson (1970)

Frank Gifford (1971-1985; 1986-1989)

Al Michaels (1986-2005)

Gary Bender (#2 1987)

Mike Patrick (#2, 1997 and 2005)

Color commentators

Howard Cosell (1970-1983)

Don Meredith (1970-1973; 1977-1984)

Fred Williamson (1974 preseason only)

Alex Karras (1974-1976)

Frank Tarkenton (1979-1982)

O.J. Simpson (1983-1985)

Joe Namath (1985)

Frank Gifford (1986-1997)

Lynn Swann (#2 1986-1987)

Dan Dierdorf (1987-1998)

Joe Theismann (#2, 1997 and 2005)

Boomer Esiason (1998-1999)

Dan Fouts (2000-2001)

Dennis Miller (2000-2001)

John Madden (2002-2005)

Paul Maguire (#2, 2005)

Sideline reporters

Lynn Swann (1994-1997, Super Bowls)

Ron Jaworski (#2, 1997)

Lesley Visser (1998-1999 and during Wild Card playoffs and Super Bowl XXXIV)

Eric Dickerson (2000-2001)

Melissa Stark (2000-2002)

Lisa Guerrero (2003)

Michele Tafoya (2004-2005)

Sam Ryan (2005)

Suzy Kolber (2005; Super Bowl XL)

Studio Hosts

Jim Lampley (halftime and Super Bowl XIX co-host)

Al Michaels (Super Bowl XIX co-host)

Keith Jackson (Super Bowl XXII host)

Frank Gifford (1998)

Chris Berman (halftime host, 1996-2005 and during Wild Card playoffs and Super Bowl)

Brent Musburger (studio host, 1990-1995)

Robin Roberts (playoffs and Hurricane Katrina telethon co-host, 2005)

Studio Analysts

Dick Vermeil (playoffs and Super Bowl, 1990-1995)

Joe Theismann (Super Bowl XIX)

Peter King (1995)

Steve Young (playoffs and Super Bowl)

Brian Billick (playoffs and Super Bowl)

Michael Strahan (playoffs and Super Bowl)

Wild Card Playoffs (No.2 game)

Play by Play Announcers

Brent Musberger (1990-1995, 2002)

Mike Patrick (1996-2001, 2003-2005)

Color Commentators

Dick Vermeil (1990-1995)

Joe Theismann (1996-2001, 2003-2005)

Paul Maguire (1998-2001, 2003-2005)

Gary Danielson (2002)

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