Monday, December 26, 2005

Turn out the lights, the party's over

35 years ago, it was started. A revolution of sorts. One which involved a game, a sport that was still maturing. Some broadcast executives thought it would be kinda neat to put football on Monday Nights as an experiment. Little did they realize it would become and institution. Sadly, this evening in the hands of Al Michaels and John Madden , truly the 'Greatest Show on Turf' will end its run on free TV. What a run it was...

From Keith Jackson being the first play by play man to the trio of 'Dandy' Don Meredith, Frank Gifford and the mouth that roared -- 'Humble' Howard Cosell to the different mixtures of announcers and jocks from Boomer Issaiason, OJ Simpson, Fred Williamson, Dan Dierdorf, Dan Fouts as well as Al Michaels and even [LOL] Dennis Miller [he of the Visigoth and Ostrogoth fame] to the current team. Who can forget the interviews with those who walked into the booth, even John Wayne and John Lennon did so. [Ironically, it was on Monday Night Football that the nation and the world got the announcement from the lips of Cosell that Lennon had been shot].

Of course there were the athletes and the games themselves who were the stars or at times the object of sharp consternation from the booth. From Joe Namath hanging his head after the Jets lost the first ever MNF game to the Cleveland Browns, the fantastic fill-in performance by 'Jefferson Street' Joe Gilliam of the Steelers over the Raiders, the evening Bo Jackson almost ran out of the Kingdome when the Raiders played the Seattle Seahawks, Brett Farve of the Packers against ANY TEAM, Joe Montana and the good 49ers teams, The Denver Broncos comebacks in the snow and ice of Mile High Stadium, the brutal Cowboys-Redskins games and even the one game between the [at the time] St Louis Cardinals and NY Giants that was so bad it was called 'the worst Monday Night game ever' (it ended in a 13 all tie).

More than anything, MNF did change how the country viewed sport as well as social patterns. Quite a few businesses looked forward to the games from restaurants to the boys from Pizza Hut. While the games will now be on ESPN and the Sunday night games will be on NBC [FREE TV FOLKS!!!!], after tonight, that one question will have a hollow ring to it:'ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??'


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