Monday Night Football: 50 Years Of Facts And Trivia

By | September 19, 2020

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Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and Don Meredith in 1971. Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

On September 21, 1970, ABC's Monday Night Football aired for the first time, bringing NFL fans something they'd never seen before: football... on a Monday night. Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Keith Jackson called the game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. The broadcast became a tremendously popular American sports institution, one more game to give fans a reason to make it through the Monday workday.

The Jets' Joe Namath threw three interceptions that night, and the Browns won 31-21.

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Are you ready for some football? (

Prior to 1970, Sundays were an all-day watch party for pro football fans -- but only on Sunday. Commissioner Pete Rozelle had wanted to branch out from Sundays for years but found resistance from television networks. The original plan was for Friday nights but, of course, that’s long been the slot for Friday Night Lights and high school football. Eventually, Rozelle sold ABC on Monday night and the National Football League would never be the same.