ESPN History

Happy Birthday, MNF

A mere 41 years ago today, Monday Night Football debuted on ABC.

The series began as a primetime football television experiment that, at the time, was seen as a gamble for the network.

But the New York Jets, featuring Joe Namath, and the host Cleveland Browns put on quite a show.

The Browns beat the Jets 31-21 before 80,000 fans in Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

The telecast drew monster ratings, a reported 35 percent share of the television audience.

The game was called by (left to right in photo above) Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, and Don Meredith.

The MNF franchise was off to a running start for a 36-year reign on ABC before becoming an ESPN staple in 2006.

The next episode of MNF features the Washington Redskins at the Dallas Cowboys (8:30 ET, ESPN).

This NFC East rivalry is being played for the 15th time on MNF.

Only the Oakland Raiders-Denver Broncos rivalry (16 games) has enjoyed more of a spotlight on MNF.

Enjoy the slideshow above that offers a look back.

And make use of the embeddable MNF Google calendar below.

It offers a convenient way to track this season’s games.


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