December 26, 2005

Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over: For the 555th and final time tonight, ABC will air Monday Night Football, the longest-running primetime sports series in television history. The New York Jets played the first game on Sept. 21, 1970, and play ABC's last tonight against the New England Patriots. Though the show's best known for the era when Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford called the games, MNF draws better ratings today than it did in the '70s, finishing in the top 10 the past 16 years. Jim Jenkins of the Sacramento Bee offers the top 10 MNF moments, which include the gruesome career-ending injury to Joe Thiesmann in 1985, who will be joining Al Michaels next season when the games air on ESPN.

posted by rcade to football at 10:00 AM - 32 comments

The Sac Bee's list of MNF announcers and sideline hosts: "Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Frank Gifford, Alex Karras, Fred Williamson, Fran Tarkenton, O.J. Simpson, Joe Namath, Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf, Lynn Swann, Boomer Esiason, Lesley Visser, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller, Eric Dickerson, Melissa Stark, John Madden, Lisa Guerrero, Michele Tafoya, Sam Ryan" All-time worst MNF dream team: Fred Williamson, O.J. Simpson and Dennis Miller with Lisa Guerrero working the sidelines.

posted by rcade at 10:03 AM on December 26, 2005

I still can't believe they tried the Dennis Miller thing. Every time I think about that I expect to wake up and find out it was only a ridiculous dream (something ABC probably wishes it could do, also). Lots of memories, though. The early games back with Cosell, Meridith, and Gifford were SO much more memorable, before the influx of cable and satellite TV. Back then, there would only be a couple of games you were able to see on Sunday afternoon, so Monday night's game always had more the feel of a real event.

posted by dyams at 10:20 AM on December 26, 2005

MNF, the end of an era. although I am now too old to make it to the end of the games,I do have some fond memories:1.The "Howard Sucks" sign 2.The "middle finger" guy 3.How inarticulate both Joe Namath and OJ Simpson could sound together. 4. Joe Washingtons OT kickoff return in the mud and rain at Foxboro.5.The Dolphins stopping the Bears "perfect" quest.6. The opening sequence that used to feature Roone Arlidge(you know he had a bet on the game) behind the scenes.Much more interesting than;"are you ready for some football?" which seems insulting, I mean ,Why do you think I am watching your show? Duh!7. Counting the times people would yell"he sucks!" at the screen when Dierdorf would do a stand up. 8.Dennis Miller using multi sylballic,college thesarus type words that maybe 3% of the veiwing audience could or even wanted to understand,at least Howard did it in the context of the game.

posted by at 10:33 AM on December 26, 2005

Gonna miss MNF on ABC, it wont be the same any more. Alot of memories from Monday nights, out with the boys, pissed off the wife a few times...oh well.

posted by Sasquatch12154 at 11:27 AM on December 26, 2005

To be honest, I didn't watch it all that often lately. When Cosell was hosting it, it was compelling, if only because, well, you know, Cosell. Dennis Miller was a shot in the dark from people who had no other ideas as to what to do with the show. It wasn't the unmitigated disaster history will remember it as, but clearly, by that point, ABC didn't know what to do with MNF anymore. It had a great run, and it's time for it to go.

posted by chicobangs at 11:57 AM on December 26, 2005

screw espn

posted by Txwinner at 12:27 PM on December 26, 2005

The ratings always were and will always be as good as the match ups. I know it would be a scheduling nightmare, not to mention ticket problems, etc., but it seems they could figure out a way to select the monday night game maybe 3-4 weeks ahead instead of at the beginning of the season. Monday night football has been good for the NFL by any measurement. While probably impossible, it still seems like it would be worth a try and certainly in the best interests of the network and the NFL. As for which team of announcers is best, I would watch a good game with nobody in the booth.

posted by STLCardinalfan at 12:36 PM on December 26, 2005

My brother-in-law is pissed but then maybe he will have to get off his butt, get a job and purchase a cable package!

posted by skydivemom at 12:44 PM on December 26, 2005

I will always remember Cosell telling the world (and unfortunately me, too) of the death of John Lennon 25 years ago. That was my favorite era of the MNF era, with Howard, Frank and Dandy Don. I think Al and Joe Theismann will be OK, just different. Maybe it's time for a change........By the way, GO BEARS !!

posted by wdminott at 01:09 PM on December 26, 2005

Howard, Frank and Dandy Don were the best...PERIOD! Though things were rough off camera, on mic they had a certain magic. I can take Al "Do you believe in miracles?....YES!"Michaels, hes a pro in everything he does. Joe Theisman on the other hand...SUCKS! Theres no other way to put it. Hey Joe,...shut the f*ck up and call the play at hand. Call it like you know we have a television in front of us and forget about the play they happened 45 minutes before.

posted by CountDracula58 at 02:05 PM on December 26, 2005

As long as the Horse Trailer stays I'm fine.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:13 PM on December 26, 2005

Column on the way.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:28 PM on December 26, 2005

Bob Costa and John Madden, now that would be a great hosting duo on ESPN.

posted by mick at 03:03 PM on December 26, 2005

Costas, far as I care, is the dean of American sportcasters. His talent would be wasted on MNF, especially now that it's about to essentially disappear for half the country.

posted by chicobangs at 04:18 PM on December 26, 2005

Ciao, Danderoo, we hardly knew ye...

posted by Thumper at 09:32 PM on December 26, 2005

It opened with the Jets losing to the Browns 31-21 and closed with the Jets losing to the Pats 31-21. Perfect.

posted by ?! at 11:28 PM on December 26, 2005

and life goes on.

posted by meijer067 at 11:43 PM on December 26, 2005

As long as the Horse Trailer stays I'm fine. Tafoya's status is still listed as day-to-day until the birth of her baby is finalized.

posted by Ufez Jones at 12:10 AM on December 27, 2005

The worse part of monday night football over the last 36 years was having to listen to Dan Derdork for 3 hours.It was like fingernails across a chalk board,can you say AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

posted by TMan58 at 12:18 AM on December 27, 2005

The oddest aspect of the Dennis Miller experiment was that the alternative (maybe never really a serious one, but I've read conflicting stories about it) was Rush Limbaugh. Whatever you may think of his political bombast -- and I try not to -- he was and is a fairly knowledgeable fan, and it's interesting to speculate what he would've brought to the booth.

posted by alumshubby at 04:51 AM on December 27, 2005

When the ABC folks were looking for a third, Rush was asked and said no. That's why they went with Miller. Both of them use words too few people bother to comprehend, but at least Miller knows how to pronounce 'erudite'.

posted by mrhockey at 08:42 AM on December 27, 2005

I still think Keith Olbermann would have been a great addition to "MNF".

posted by Motown Mike at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2005

I find it hard to believe that Limbaugh was offered a position in the Monday Night Football booth and turned it down. He took the position on ESPN's Sunday morning show after all the rumors were floated about him being on MNF. If he was willing to take that, why wouldn't he accept the highest profile announcing job in sports? I don't listen to his show enough to judge, but Limbaugh didn't seem very knowledgeable about sports when he attributed Donovan McNabb's on-field success to affirmative action. The comment was so widely reviled he was out on his ass within 10 days of saying it.

posted by rcade at 11:53 AM on December 27, 2005

Well, to be fair, Rush at least had some kind of sports background. Granted it was baseball (before he got into the punditry business, he worked for the Royals, though I'm guessing not in a diversity/community outreach position), not football, but still. That's about as fair as I can be, but it's something.

posted by chicobangs at 12:50 PM on December 27, 2005

I know I am in the minority but listening to Madden every week is worse than Miller and Dierdorf combined.

posted by scottypup at 04:58 PM on December 27, 2005

Bring back Melissa Stark

posted by Wrigley South at 05:19 PM on December 27, 2005

This one ranks a 10 on the "Who Cares?" meter. MNF isn't dead...just on ESPN. Big deal. Poor ABC...wah...I think [insert name here] was/is the best and [insert name here] sucked. We will all have the opportunity to enjoy a cold beverage and some hot wings (or other tasty treat) and watch some NFL on Monday's next year. MNF has been a bad product for many years...lame announcers...the same stupid intro (how in the world did Hank Williams get a lifetime contract with them?) and worthless games for weeks in a row. The last four games have featured 2 playoff bound teams, and , shockingly enough, they weren't playing each other. The MNF that was a cultural phenomonon died a long time ago. The real MNF news is that ESPN can change the games scheduled for the second half of the season thus insuring (or at least helping) we get games worth watching.

posted by stofer71 at 05:27 PM on December 27, 2005

We'll be able to watch games on Monday night, but I don't think it'll be Monday Night Football. That might be a good thing -- the franchise was getting tired -- but it was still huge for its time. I don't think ABC mentioned that games will be on ESPN once during the broadcast. They treated the last game as the end of MNF.

posted by rcade at 07:29 PM on December 27, 2005

The real MNF news is that ESPN can change the games scheduled for the second half of the season thus insuring (or at least helping) we get games worth watching. No, it's NBC's Sunday night package that's getting the flexible scheduling. ESPN's matchups will be locked in place like always. No flexible schedule, no Super Bowls or playoff games, no season openers, no Thanksgiving games...and ESPN's still going to be paying double what ABC did in their last contract.

posted by Motown Mike at 11:00 PM on December 27, 2005

ESPN's matchups will be locked in place like always. damn....that sux. I guess I won't be watching then....again.

posted by stofer71 at 11:41 AM on December 28, 2005

The ESPN broadcasting team of Theismann and MacGuire are the most annoying sycophantic toadies I've ever heard. I have to mute the whole game If Ray Lewis or, God forbid, Brett Favre is playing. They act like these guys deserve every penny of their millions just for not stabbing anyone. Well, in Lewis' case, not being convicted of stabbing anyone. If I hear "He's not just a great football player--he's an excellent human being" one more time, I'm taking a fucking hostage.

posted by kafkaesque at 08:03 PM on December 29, 2005

Even though it was briefly on hiatus, I think this would still be the longest running prime-time sports series in television history.

posted by grum@work at 12:35 AM on December 31, 2005

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