On September 21, 1970, the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns played in the very first Monday Night Football game, marking the beginning of sport television’s longest running series. In celebration of that golden anniversary 50 years ago, opening tonight’s telecast (the 799th MNF game) ESPN’s current MNF play-by-play commentator Steve Levy, and analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick paid homage to the original MNF broadcasters Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and Don Meredith, by donning replica sport jackets that the original trio wore on the inaugural telecast. Reporter Lisa Salters and officiating expert John Parry are also sporting the iconic jacket throughout the telecast.
Throughout tonight’s telecast, ESPN’s production will continue to recognize the milestone with special elements, while also celebrating the NFL’s first game in Las Vegas, as the New Orleans Saints face the Las Vegas Raiders.
Ahead of the game tonight, Levy, Griese, Riddick, Salters and Parry each shared their fondest Monday Night Football memories.
My earliest negotiations with my parents were pretty common: no vegetables and ‘how can I stay up later?’ I distinctly remember my biggest victory was being able to make it until the start of the 3rd quarter of MNF. As a kid, the game itself was great but halftime was my sweet spot: the highlights of Sunday’s games, seeing all the different helmets and uniforms combined with the great music and the equally great Howard Cosell narrating…it’s something that always stuck with me.
December 2, 1985
I was 10 years old and needless to say a huge Miami Dolphins fan. I was in the stands as the Chicago Bears rolled into the Orange Bowl with an unbeaten record and threatening my dad’s and the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ undefeated season. With many of the ‘72 team in attendance and on the sideline, the Dolphins won and made me the happiest kid in the world!
It was a special week when the great voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and Don Meredith were providing the backdrop of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football with Tony Dorsett in the backfield. That was utopia for me growing up and all I wanted to see each Monday night.
January 3, 1983
I remember my family and I watching the Vikings-Cowboys game in January of 1983. My family loved football but the main draw for us THAT night was our cousin Tony Dorsett. When he broke that 99-yard touchdown run, the longest from scrimmage in NFL history, we screamed and hollered at the TV like crazy people.
September 18, 2003