Answer: Frank Gifford
Frank Gifford was a first round draft pick in the 1952 draft. He played his entire career with the New York Giants. He was a very adaptable player who was known to play half-back, wide-receiver as well as defensive back. Inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1977, Frank Gifford was a football icon for over 40 years.
Answer: New York Giants vs New England Patriots
On November 8, 1987, ESPN televised its very first regular season NFL game. It was a Week Nine contest between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots which the Giants won, 17-10.
On October 11, 1999, Bryan Barker booted a punt an astounding 83 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That punt was one of the few Jets' highlights (if you can call it that) as Jacksonville defeated the Jets, 16-6.
Answer: Cleveland Browns / New York Jets
The first ever Monday Night Football game pitted the Browns against the Jets on September 21, 1970. Cleveland won the contest, 31-21.
Answer: Bo Jackson
Jackson tore through the Seattle Seahawks for 221 yards on November 30, 1987. This was the game in which Jackson ran over the highly touted Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth. The Raiders won the game in Seattle, 37-14.
Answer: Boomer Esiason
Norman Julius "Boomer" Esiason played in the NFL from 1984 until 1997. While most of his career was with the Cincinnati Bengals, he did spend two years with the New York Jets, and one year with the Arizona Cardinals before he went back for one more year with the Bengals. Esiason only worked for two seasons for Monday Night Football, mostly because of personal conflicts between him and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels. He went on to work for the CBS show "The NFL Today" and radio work.
Answer: New England Patriots / New York Jets
"Monday Night Football" closed out its run on ABC on December 26, 2005, by coming full circle on its final telecast. The game was the Patriots vs. Jets, with New York losing their last appearance just as they did their first by the exact same score, 31-21.
Answer: Detroit Lions
It's fairly widely known that Cleveland beat the New York Jets 31-21 on September 21, 1970, winning the first Monday Night Football game. That contest featured an epic performance by Jets receiver George Sauer, who caught 10 passes for 172 yards, but saw his team lose as the Browns intercepted Joe Namath three times and ran the second half kickoff back for a touchdown. In MNF's second game, the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs thumped the Baltimore Colts (who would go on to win that season's Super Bowl), 44-24, as Johnny Robinson of the Chiefs intercepted Johnny Unitas three times and also returned a Colt fumble for a touchdown. The Detroit Lions won the third game, becoming the first NFC team to win on Monday night as they beat the Chicago Bears, 28-14.
Answer: Joe Montana
Montana torched the Rams on the night of December 11, 1989. 49ers wide receiver John Taylor also set a Monday night record during the game with 286 yards receiving. That record was broken by his teammate Jerry Rice six years later.
Answer: Don Meredith
"Dandy" Don Meredith was always a crowd favorite, both on the field and in the broadcast booth. His lighthearted delivery was the polar opposite to partner Howard Cosells intellectual, and stolid play by play. After his career on Monday Night Football, he did multiple appearances on televisions shows and did bit parts in movies. He may be best remembered by football fans for his renditions of Willie Nelson's song "The Party's Over" at a time in the game when he thought that the victor had been decided and no comeback was possible.
In 1988, Joe Theismann began his broadcasting career as a color analyst on ESPN's Sunday night NFL telecasts. He and Patrick would continue as a two-man team until 1998 when they would be joined by former Buffalo Bill and NBC color analyst Paul Maguire.
Answer: Buffalo Bills
On the season premiere of ABC's "Monday Night Football" on September 16, 1974, the Oakland Raiders suffered their only loss during that 20 game stretch at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, 21-20, at Rich Stadium. Oakland had a chance to win the game at the end, but George Blanda missed the 50-yard field goal try.
After coming off a 9-7 season and a surprising AFC Championship Game appearance in January of 1997, the Jags hosted "MNF" for the first time ever and defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-21. It was their only appearance on the show that season.
Answer: Chanted for Don Meredith to come out of the broadcast booth and help their team
"We want Meredith!", chanted the fans at the Cotton Bowl, hoping to entice their former quarterback, who had retired two seasons earlier, on to the field to avert what was the worst home loss the Cowboys had suffered to that point. "No way you're getting me back down there," said Meredith. A good friend of singer Willie Nelson, Meredith eventually began incorporating Nelson's, "Turn Out the Lights", song into games, singing it when a contest had turned into an irreversible blowout.
Answer: Dave Krieg & Jim Kelly
Krieg threw 5 TD passes on Monday night in 1988, as the Seahawks beat the Los Angeles Raiders 35-27. Kelly's 5 TD performance came in a 35-16 Bills victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991.
A week after going to Jacksonville, "MNF" visited Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first time ever and saw the Panthers lose to the 49ers, 34-21.
Answer: Several reporters left messages asking him about it
The book, "Monday Night Mayhem," about the early years of Monday Night Football, memorably describes the replacement of Jackson with Gifford. ABC producer Roone Arledge was a friend of Gifford and had wanted him to be on MNF, but Gifford was under contract to CBS through 1970. When Arledge signed Gifford in April of 1971, Jackson was traveling for ABC. As he checked into his hotel, he was presented with a thick stack of messages from reporters seeking his reaction to being replaced. Jackson saved the messages and later, when Arledge told him, "I tried calling you," Jackson threw the message slips on Arledge's desk and said, "Show me the message!" Jackson went on to become a popular college football announcer on ABC.
Answer: They did not appear on the show at all that season
The Niners missed appearing on "Monday Night Football" in 2000 for the first time since the 1982. Coming off the first of their five Super Bowl wins from the previous season, it was only due to the 1982 season's 57-day player's strike that prevented them from making a scheduled appearance. Nine games were lost that season. The last "MNF" game played before the strike was on September 20, 1982 (Packers, 27, Giants, 19). The next "MNF" game would be played until November 22, 1982 (Raiders, 28, Chargers, 24). The 49ers finished the '82 season at 4-5 and missed the playoffs.
Answer: Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants
Fran Tarkenton played 15 years with the Minnesota Vikings and 5 years with the New York Giants in a stellar career that led to his induction into the Hall of Fame in 1986. Tarkenton worked as a sports commentator for Monday Night Football from 1979-1982. He worked both Monday and Thursday night games. He went on to work in the ever-expanding world of computer software.
In 1961, the NFL season increased from 12 to 14 games because of expansion (the Dallas Cowboys, 1960, and the Minnesota Vikings, 1961, had entered the league) and to compete with the AFL, which had played a 14-game schedule since its inception the previous year.
When "Monday Night Football" debuted in 1970, the show only televised games 13 of those weeks. Then, in 1978, the season was again increased by another two games to 16. It was in this season that "Monday Night Football" began televising a full season's worth of games.
Answer: Frank Gifford and Al Michaels
Frank Gifford was the booth's only holdover from the previous season. He had partnered with Joe Namath, who only spent the '85 season on the show, and O.J. Simpson, who had been in the booth since 1983. Simpson had replaced Fran Tarkenton.
Answer: Ronald Reagan & John Lennon
Reagan and Lennon appeared together at halftime on December 9, 1974, between the Washington Redskins and Los Angeles Rams. That they were together in the same room was amazing, as Reagan, California governor at the time, was viewed as a staunch traditionalist with little use for long hair or radical ideas, and Lennon was fighting a US order to deport him, stemming from an earlier drug conviction. The two got along well, with Reagan explaining American football to Lennon, who was attending his first NFL game. Sadly, six years later and almost to the day, Lennon was killed, and Cosell announced the news during a broadcast of a game between the Patriots and the Dolphins.
Answer: "Welcome to the Mile High City, and I really am!"
This was at the start of Denver's first appearance on MNF. Meredith had apparantly greatly enjoyed himself at a pre-game cocktail party, and led the broadcast off with that bit of cheer, undoubtedly causing millions of young fans across the US to ask their parents what exactly Dandy Don had meant.
Answer: The fan flashed his middle finger while the cameras were on him signifying his distaste for the way the game was going
On October 9, 1972, in the third quarter of a 34-0 rout, one of the few fans left in the Astrodome displayed his displeasure with the Oilers performance by extending his middle finger to the camera, prompting "MNF" Announcer Don Meredith to quickly quip, "He thinks they are number one in the nation".
Answer: Fred Williamson
Meredith, the most popular member of the MNF crew, left ABC in 1974 to work at NBC under a contract in which he would both cover football and act on NBC television shows. ABC happily hired actor and former AFL player, Fred "the Hammer" Williamson. With his reputation for saying outrageous things, and with his stardom in "blaxploitation" films of the early 1970s, expected to widen the program's fan base. The network thought they had the recipe for a huge success. Instead, Williamson didn't seem to have much to say, he had no chemistry with the team (the edgy sparring between Cosell and Meredith had been a centerpiece of the first four seasons), and he spurned the conservative announcer wardrobe of the network for open-collared shirts and obscene jewelry. After a few lackluster preseason games, ABC bought out Williamson's contract and replaced him with former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras. Meredith rejoined the team in 1977.
In 1983, the Packers beat the Redskins 48-47 in one the wildest NFL games ever played. That year the Redskins lost only two games, both on Monday night, and both by one point.
Answer: Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell
It seems unthinkable, or maybe just a bad joke, but Cosell had become such a big star by 1975 that he persuaded ABC to let him host a Saturday evening variety show. The act of titling itself, "Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell", forced NBC to title its own live show, also debuting that season, simply "NBC's Saturday Night" to avoid confusion. The first Cosell show featured tennis star Jimmy Connors singing. The second featured the American debut of the Bay City Rollers, modestly hyped by Cosell as the next Beatles. The show actually did have some bright spots. Billy Crystal made his national television debut on the show, and its repertory company, the "Prime Time Players", featured Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray, both of whom would eventually be regulars on Saturday Night Live (or "NBC's Saturday Night"). The Cosell variety show failed to take off, and was cancelled in January 1976. The NBC show renamed itself, "Saturday Night Live", and was still going strong at the turn of the century.
The Jets lost to the Miami Dolphins 45-3 on November 24, 1986.
Answer: San Diego Chargers
Dan Fouts wore the uniform of the San Diego Chargers for his entire career (1973-1987). Fouts was a sports commentator for two seasons with Monday Night Football (2000-2001). Considered by many to be one of the best sports commentators that actually played the game, Fouts has worked for many other football programs as well. He has also done some film roles, most notably playing himself in the movie "The Waterboy" in 1998.
Answer: Dallas Cowboys vs St. Louis Rams
The Rams and the Cowboys closed out ESPN's Sunday Night Football series on January 1, 2006. St. Louis won the game at Texas Stadium, 20-10.
Answer: Heavy Action
British composer/pianist, Johnny Pearson, wrote the piece, "Heavy Action", for the British sports show, "Superstars", in 1970. The show, which was a competition pitting various athletes against each other in various sporting events (the athletes could not compete in their own events of expertise, however), was a huge hit in Europe before catching on in the U.S., in 1973. ABC bought the rights to use "Heavy Action" as the theme song for ABC's "Monday Night Football" telecasts, in 1971, and it continued to be a staple of the show throughout its run on ABC.
In 1987, composer Edd Kalehoff, who specializes in music compositions for televsion, re-vamped the song. While Kalehoff's version remained true to Pearson's version, anyone can tell that there is a distinct difference between the two songs. "Heavy Action" is still used on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" telecasts, but not with the same prominence that Pearson's version was used. The theme song has been replaced by Hank Williams, Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends (Are You Ready For Some Football)" for the show's introduction. For me, Johnny Pearson's version will always have a special place in my heart.
After 18 seasons in the NFL, Fran Tarkenton came into the "Monday Night Football" booth to join Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on a part-time basis. He filled in for Don Meredith, who was only contractually obligated to work a 14 game "MNF" schedule instead of the 16 game schedule that the show had gone to starting in 1978. Tarkenton also had his other show, "That's Incredible" ,also on ABC which he was working on, further limiting his "MNF" appearances. His final season on "MNF" was 1982.
Answer: "He thinks they're number one in the nation!"
On October 9, 1972, the Oakland Raiders were headed for a 34-0 thumping of the Houston Oilers (Oakland's third win in as many MNF appearances, scoring 34 points each time). As the fans emptied from the Astrodome stands during the final quarter, the cameras found a wonderful shot: a fan, seemingly alone in his section, was sleeping. "A vivid picturization of the excitement attendant upon this game", was what Howard Cosell called the image of the sleeping man. Then, unfortunately, the man woke up, and less fortunately, "flipped off" the camera. Without missing a beat, Meredith commented, "He thinks they're number one in the nation!" It was another four seasons before the Oilers appeared again on MNF, and two more years after that before Houston hosted another Monday night game.
Answer: Indianapolis Colts
On Halloween night 1988 the Colts crushed the Broncos 55-23, as running back Eric Dickerson tied a Monday night record with 4 touchdowns.