Monday Night Football (MNF) is a live broadcast of the National Football League on ESPN. From 1970 to 2005 it aired on ABC. Monday Night Football was, along with Hallmark Hall of Fame, and the Walt Disney anthology television series, one of the longest running prime time commercial network television series ever, and one of the highest-rated, particularly among male viewers.
Monday Night Football can also be seen in Canada on TSN and RIS, and in most of Europe on ESPN America. On 29 March 2010 it was announced that MNF would be shown on ESPN UK, in most of Australia on One HD, in Portugal on SportTV 3 and SportTV HD and on TV 2 Sport in Denmark, and in some regions of the world outside the U.S. on ESPN International. A Spanish language version airs on ESPN Deportes in the U.S. and on ESPN International in Latin America. The games are also made available on regular over-the-air television stations in each participating team's local market so that households without cable television can still see the telecast.
As of December 27, 2010, the Monday Night Football franchise had aired a total of 643 games.
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After 41 years, there now have been a total of 730 games televised by the Monday Night Football franchise.
To avoid any scheduling unfairness where a team may have five days between games and others six before the first playoff game, there is no Monday night game during the final week of the regular season. From 2003 until 2005, one game was played on Thursday and another Monday under the Monday Night Football banner. Starting in 2006, when the series moved to cable, two games are played on the opening Monday night to capitalize on fan interest during "Kickoff Weekend".
Monday night games early in the season are often highly anticipated since records are new, teams usually are showcasing fresh talent and potential, and storylines coming into the season are often played out as fans try to see if these hyped teams are up to form. Since no one knows during the first month of the season if a team is indeed good, or will rebound from a difficult start, interest is usually high for the first few weeks of the MNF season.
Unfortunately, since the MNF schedule is set in April and cannot be changed, the league and network cannot guarantee a late season match up will have any significance or be highly anticipated. Teams thought to be good during the off-season could be out of playoff contention by mid-season (a prime example occurring in 1999, when the 49ers and Falcons both entered the season's final MNF game with 4-11 records. It had seemed like a good pre-season matchup since the Falcons had played in the previous season's Super Bowl and the 49ers coming into the '99 season had posted 16 consecutive 10-win seasons). It is also possible for a team like the 1999 St. Louis Rams not to be scheduled for a Monday night game because of its dismal record the year before, and many other NFL teams have had huge unforeseen turnarounds that result in lack of MNF attention (these teams generally receive multiple MNF spots the year after their breakout success, which is great for viewers if those teams continue to play well, and not so great if they return to mediocrity or worse). However, the forecasting abilities of the NFL's schedule-makers have generally been proficient over the years, resulting in most late-season MNF games featuring at least one team that is either headed to the playoffs or needs to win the MNF game to clinch/get closer to a playoff spot.
The problem of having a national spotlight game which during the season's most critical weeks late in the year probably would not show the most important game of the week was long known by the league and network. As a result of this, the league wished to move the "Game of the Week" idea to Sunday nights as to make flex scheduling possible. This was a move which would ultimately mean the end of Monday Night Football on ABC. (Cable games are protected from the NFL's flexible scheduling rule adopted for the 2006–07 season. The new rule applies only to CBS, Fox, and NBC's Sunday night games.)
Franchises with the most appearances
The franchise with the most Monday night appearances is the Miami Dolphins.
The most common Monday Night Football pairings are Denver vs. Oakland (matched up 15 times as of the start of the 2009–10 season), and Dallas vs. Washington (matched up 14 times as of the start of the 2009–10 season); both are division games between bitter rivals and draw substantial interest from fans of other teams as well.
The show as entertainment
Monday Night Football has continued to provide as much entertainment as sports throughout its run. In addition to the extra cameras, the show has also pioneered technological broadcast innovations, such as the use of enhanced slow motion replays and computerized graphics.
Celebrity guests, such as former Vice President Spiro Agnew, singers Plácido Domingo and John Lennon (formerly of The Beatles), President Bill Clinton, and even Kermit the Frog, were often featured during the game to "liven up" the broadcast. The December 9, 1974 contest featured a rare instance of two celebrities entering the booth, with Lennon being interviewed by Cosell and California governor Ronald Reagan speaking with Gifford, with Reagan explaining the rules of American football (off-camera) to Lennon as the game went along. However, the late 1990s and early 2000s saw an even more increased reliance on the entertainment factor. Some halftime shows, featuring popular music stars, were broadcast in full rather than being ignored in favor of analysis of the game by the commentators, as in previous seasons.
Hank Williams, Jr. reworked his country music hit "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" to be included in the telecast's introduction. (The original introduction music was an organ-based piece called "Score", written by Charles Fox and recorded by Bob's Band.) In addition, Edd Kalehoff modernized the classic "Heavy Action" theme in 1989. It was Williams, Jr. who literally had the last word on ABC's last broadcast, with his rendition of Don Meredith's famous song, "Turn Out the Lights, The Party's Over", shown as the broadcast ended. On October 23, 2006, Hank Williams Jr. shouted the catchphrase, live, on top of the "Cowboy star" at the 50-yard line of Texas Stadium before kickoff of the Dallas Cowboys game that evening.
The program's affiliation with ABC/ESPN also resulted in numerous promotional crossovers between MNF and other ABC/ESPN programs.
For its 2006 debut on ESPN, Williams, Jr. re-recorded the MNF opening theme with an all-star jam band that included Brian Setzer, Little Richard, Questlove, Joe Perry, Clarence Clemons, Rick Nielsen, Bootsy Collins, Charlie Daniels, Steven Van Zandt and others. The 2006 telecast generally began with a cinematic tease produced by Rico Labbe, Michael Sciallis and Jason Jobes. It was during one of these teases that Barack Obama spoofed his announcement for the 2008 Presidential candidacy.
The tease is followed by the show open produced by Los Angeles-based The Syndicate called Transformation. It features computer-generated imagery showing a city being transformed into a football stadium and passers-by on the street turning into players, coaches, fans, and officials set to an updated orchestral treatment of the "Heavy Action" theme song. The sequence begins every week with a different celebrity walking down the street, picking up a glowing football helmet with the ESPN logo on the side and saying, "I'm ready for some football! Are you?", thus beginning the transformation process. Celebrities for 2006 included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matthew Fox, Hugh Hefner, Paris Hilton, Spike Lee, Ashton Kutcher, Samuel L. Jackson, Ludacris, Jack Black, Kiefer Sutherland, James Belushi, Ben Stiller, Tyra Banks, Carmen Electra and Eva Longoria.
Also, the stars returned in full force to the booth, though this proved to be the major criticism of the ESPN's first MNF season. On the opening weekend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, another celebrity turned California governor, was in the booth at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California; before that, Jamie Foxx appeared at FedExField in suburban Washington, D.C. Following them have included NBA basketball superstar Dwyane Wade, Basketball Hall of Fame player Charles Barkley, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon, comedian Jimmy Kimmel (whose opening words to Joe Theismann were "how's the leg?"), actor Sylvester Stallone, director Spike Lee, hip hop artist Jay-Z, and MNF theme singer Hank Williams, Jr.
Digital on-screen graphics
ESPN's score banner used since acquiring Monday Night Football from sister-channel ABC is placed in the middle of the screen on the bottom. It looks all black, and with the road team on the left side, and the home team on the right side. Also, the team colors are on the sides of the scoreboard. When a touchdown happens, a side of the team who scores the touchdown opens with a team logo, and next to it is "TOUCHDOWN" and the score changes number-by-number. ESPN Monday Night Football is the only time this score banner is used. In other sports, a red parallelogram shaped score banner was used. The other on screen graphics are intact. Monday Night Football began using a more traditional score banner, the "MNF Dashboard", at the bottom of the screen in 2008, with player stats and information being displayed the score and time. ESPN's NFL broadcasts, even before acquiring MNF, have been traditionally somewhat of a testing ground for new graphics for the network's other play-by-play properties.
Beginning with the 2008 season, the score banner was given a cosmetic makeover. A virtual on-field graphic showing an arrow pointing towards the direction of advancement and the down/yardage information were used on all plays. A play clock was added to the virtual on-field graphic the following season, beginning with the September 14, 2009 game between the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.
MNF's scoring banner was slightly changed for its 40th season in 2009. Additionally (beginning with Week 4), timeout indicators were added below each team's abbreviations. (Note: This was first used on the ESPN networks' college football coverage, beginning in 2007.) On December 19, 2009, ESPN debuted a variation of this scoring banner and a graphics package mirroring that of MNF for its college football coverage, beginning with the 2009 New Mexico Bowl. On March 14, 2010, the scoreboard debut for the NBA on ABC. On April 4, 2010, ESPN Major League Baseball debuted their graphics package on the 2010 MLB Opening Day, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
The MNF scoring banner underwent some significant changes for the 2010 season, mirroring that of what was first used during the 2010 college football season on the ESPN family of networks a week earlier. When the scoring banner is displayed, the "Monday Night Football" logo appears before showing the time and score. Also, the time remaining in each quarter is slightly larger than before. The team logos appear alongside their abbreviations, and The timeout indicators are more visible than the previous year. Also, the word "TIMEOUT" (in capital letters) appears in place of the team abbreviations and score after a team takes a timeout. And the graphic reading "TOUCHDOWN" appears in conjunction with the score change (after which the team scores a TD).
ESPN cut back to only one opening tease for the 2007 season. Williams Jr. and the all-star band returned, only this time they played in a "juke joint" set on a country road. The lead singer arrives in a GMC Yukon truck (GMC paid for product placement) with the license plate "BOCEPHUS", which is Williams' nickname. The Syndicate's computer-generated tease was removed and replaced by short pre-taped films focusing on a team or player in the game. Some of them have featured actor Jamie Foxx.
The guest visits continued: Barkley returned to the booth on September 17 in Philadelphia. Other guests throughout the season have included Kimmel (another returnee), Drew Carey, Miley Cyrus, Russell Crowe, and Terry Bradshaw. In addition, Gordon was a halftime guest on the game just before the season-ending Ford 400 and was joined by teammate Jimmie Johnson.
When the game ends, Williams returns to say, "See you in (city that is the site of the next week's game)." Both the open and close contain helmets of the participating teams, organized in the style of a concert poster.
Despite the de-emphasis on entertainment on the overall telecast, ESPN did bring back Hank Williams, Jr. for his 20th season as part of the opening. This time, the open was set in a private residence. At the end of the song, Williams Jr. touched a foot pump which supposedly contained the helmets of that night's participating teams. The helmets were launched from the home toward the stadium at which the game was held. Through computer-generated imagery, the helmets "land" at midfield during a live shot, and then explode. The "exploding helmets" gimmick was also used at various times in the 1980s and 1990s during the pre-game tease. Williams Jr. then appeared again at the end of the game to promote the next week's matchup.
ESPN also continued to promote upcoming albums through its use in bumper music. On September 29 (Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers), ESPN used "Another Way to Die", a duet between Alicia Keys and Jack White of the White Stripes. The song was part of the soundtrack for the 2008 movie Quantum of Solace, the latest in the James Bond series.
For the 40th season of Monday Night Football, Hank Williams, Jr. is seen on the steps of a building (presumably a museum), surrounded by dancers, football fans, and statues/busts patterned after those at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The statues begin to move and dance along with everyone else in the scene.
The transition to Williams Jr. is a book, with the chapter number (in Roman numerals, sequentially with each week) and a tag line about the game to be played that night.
At the end of the song, Williams Jr. plugged in the cords, thereby launching animated "helmets" into space. The helmets were launched from the building toward the stadium at which the game was held (with the exception of October 5, 2009, when the helmets zoomed towards Brett Favre instead), passing the International Space Station. And just like the previous season as mentioned above, the helmets "land" at midfield during a live shot and then crashed into each other. Williams Jr. appeared again at the end of the telecast to promote the following week's matchup, and the book closed, signifying the end of the "chapter," or game.
The scene was filmed in the summer of 2009 at The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee.
Before Williams Jr. appears, Frank Gifford gives a short vignette about a memorable moment in the history of Monday Night Football featuring one or both of the teams playing that night's game.
The 40th season of Monday Night Football ended December 28, 2009 with the Minnesota Vikings-Chicago Bears game in Chicago. The Bears defeated the Vikings in overtime, 36–30. The telecast ended with a vignette that featured Gifford taking a look back at highlights of the last 4 decades – and the 40th season – of MNF. After that, the book closed, signifying the end of the season.
The opening was identical to the previous season, except for the final scenes. This time, Williams Jr. turns a wheel filled with paint and then, through computer-generated imagery, colors blast into the air and the helmets containing logos of participating teams are revealed. The helmets stay on top of the building. In one other minor difference, the chapter numbers in the "book" are Arabic numerals, not Roman ones. Gifford is providing new vignettes and the Parthenon scenes are repeated from the year before. The 2010 season marked Williams' 22nd as part of the telecast open.
In an unusual coincidence, both games which had the New York Jets as a home team at New Meadowlands Stadium were delayed by heavy rain and lightning. The first time, September 13 against the Baltimore Ravens, the game was delayed 25 minutes; the second delay, prior to the October 11 contest against the Minnesota Vikings, lasted for 40 minutes. Prior to the 9/13 game, the last ESPN telecast to encounter weather problems was on October 2, 1999 (a Sunday night) when lightning halted Seattle Seahawks at Kansas City Chiefs during the second quarter. The first delay forced ESPN to again use ESPN2 for a game telecast, this time for the Chiefs' home opener against the San Diego Chargers. As in 2007, the broadcast was shifted to ESPN once the first game was over.
The game between the Jets and the Vikings was both Brett Favre's first game in East Rutherford since his only season there in 2008 and marked Randy Moss' return to the Vikings. Moss played only four games for Minnesota until he was waived on November 2.
Monday Night Football scoring records
- Most points
- 59 – Philadelphia Eagles, November 15, 2010 vs. Washington Redskins
- 55 – Indianapolis Colts, October 31, 1988 vs. Denver Broncos
- 52 – San Francisco 49ers, December 23, 1991 vs. Chicago Bears
- 52 – San Diego Chargers, December 20, 1982 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
- 51 – New Orleans Saints, November 24, 2008 vs. Green Bay Packers
- 49 – Philadelphia Eagles, November 15, 2004 vs. Dallas Cowboys
- 49 – Kansas City Chiefs, December 13, 2004 vs. Tennessee Titans
- 48 – Detroit Lions, October 19, 1981 vs. Chicago Bears
- 48 – Green Bay Packers, October 17, 1983 vs. Washington Redskins
- 48 – Baltimore Ravens, December 19, 2005 vs. Green Bay Packers
- 48 – Tennessee Titans, October 11, 2004 vs. Green Bay Packers
- Most one-sided games
- 45 points – Baltimore 48, Green Bay 3 – December 19, 2005
- 42 points – New England 45, N.Y. Jets 3 - December 6, 2010
- 42 points – Miami 45, N.Y. Jets 3 – November 24, 1986
- 42 points – Seattle 42, Philadelphia 0 – December 5, 2005 (largest margin of victory by an MNF road team)
- 41 points - San Francisco 41, Chicago 0 - December 14, 1987
- 38 points – San Francisco 52, Chicago 14 – December 23, 1991
- 38 points – San Francisco 41, Atlanta 3 – November 9, 1992
- 38 points – St. Louis 38, Dallas 0 – November 16, 1970
- 37 points - Dallas 40, New Orleans 3 - September 24, 1973
- 35 points - Pittsburgh 42, Denver 7 - October 22, 1979
- 35 points - Miami 41, Indianapolis 6 - December 10, 2001
- 35 points - St. Louis 35, Detroit 0 - October 8, 2001
- 34 points - Green Bay Packers 41, Oakland 7 - December 22, 2003
- 34 points - Los Angeles 40, N. Y. Giants 6 - December 10, 1973
- 34 points - Oakland 34, Houston 0 - October 9, 1972
- Highest scoring games
- 95 points – Green Bay 48, Washington 47 – October 17, 1983
- 87 points – Kansas City 49, Tennessee 38 – December 13, 2004
- 87 points – Philadelphia 59, Washington 28 – November 15, 2010
- 86 points – San Diego 52, Cincinnati 34 – December 20, 1982
- 82 points – Dallas 43, Seattle 39 – December 6, 2004
- 80 points – New Orleans 51, Green Bay 29 – November 24, 2008
- 79 points – Oakland 45, Pittsburgh 34 – October 20, 1980
- 78 points – Indianapolis Colts 55, Denver Broncos 23 - October 31, 1988
- 78 points – Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37 – September 15, 2008
- 78 points - Oakland 40, Dallas 38 - October 23, 1983
- 77 points - Oakland 42, New Orleans 35 - December 3, 1979
- 77 points - Dallas 42, San Francisco 35 - December 12, 1977
- 77 points - N.Y. Jets 40, Miami 37 - October 23, 2000
- 76 points - Kansas City 42, Denver 34 - November 18, 1974
- 75 points - Tennessee 48, Green Bay 27 - October 11, 2004
- Lowest scoring games
- 3 points – Pittsburgh 3, Miami 0 – November 26, 2007
- 9 points – Jacksonville 9, Pittsburgh 0 – September 18, 2006
- 10 points – San Francisco 7, N.Y. Giants 3 – December 3, 1990
- 12 points - Oakland 9, Denver 3 - December 1, 1980
- 13 points - Baltimore 10, Washington 3 - November 7, 1977
- 13 points - Los Angeles 10, Pittsburgh 3 - December 20, 1975
- 14 points - Washington 9, Dallas 5 - October 2, 1978
- 15 points - Buffalo 9, Indianapolis 6 - October 20, 1997
- 15 points - Detroit 13, Minnesota 2 - December 5, 1983
- 15 points - Houston 9, Miami 6 - November 5, 1979
- 16 points - Oakland 13, Miami 3 - October 8, 1979
- Closest games (1970-1975)
- 0 points - Detroit Lions 14, Green Bay Packers 14 - November 1, 1971
- 0 points - Oakland Raiders 23, Denver Broncos 23 - October 22, 1973
- 1 point - Green Bay Packers 24, Detroit Lions 23 - October 16, 1972
- 1 point - Buffalo Bills 21, Oakland Raiders 20 - September 16, 1974
- 1 point - Chicago Bears 10, Green Bay Packers 9 - October 21, 1974
- 2 points - Green Bay Packers 22, San Diego Chargers 20 - October 12, 1970
- 3 points - Baltimore Colts 13, Green Bay Packers 10 - November 9, 1970
- 3 points - Philadelphia Eagles 23, New York Giants 20 - November 23, 1970
- 3 points - Minnesota Vikings 16, Detroit Lions 13 - September 20, 1971
- 3 points - San Diego Chargers 20, St. Louis Cardinals 17 - November 15, 1971
- 3 points - Washington Redskins 24, Minnesota Vikings 21 - September 18, 1972
- 3 points - Kansas City Chiefs 20, New Orleans Saints 17 - September 25, 1972
- 3 points - Chicago Bears 13, Minnesota Vikings 10 - October 23, 1972
- 3 points - Philadelphia Eagles 13, Dallas Cowboys 10 - September 23, 1974
- 3 points - New York Giants 17, Buffalo Bills 14 - October 20, 1975
- 3 points - Kansas City Chiefs 34, Dallas Cowboys 31 - November 10, 1975
- From 1970 to 1997, ABC's Monday Night Football coverage began at 9 p.m. EST/EDT, with game kickoff typically coming seven minutes after the hour. In 1998, coverage was moved forward to 8 p.m. ET, with a pre-game show titled Monday Night Blast and hosted by Chris Berman from the ESPN Zone restaurant in Baltimore preceding the start of the game at 8:20 p.m. This was done mainly to address ABC's inability to find a suitable 8 p.m. lead-in program for MNF since the 1992 ending of MacGyver (not even two other series from Paramount Television - The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Marshal - which produced MacGyver, saw success, despite the former's ties to Paramount's Indiana Jones film series), and to allow stations to start their late local newscasts nearer to their regular times. Poor ratings caused this experiment to be dropped after one season, with MNF once again moving to 9 p.m. in 1999.
- From 1970 to 1995, ABC affiliates in Seattle (KOMO) and Portland (KATU) aired MNF games on a one-hour tape delay starting at 7 p.m. PST\PDT (games normally started 9 p.m. EST\EDT-6 p.m. PST\PDT) in order to accommodate local newscasts (unless the Seattle Seahawks were playing, in which case the game would be shown live). The practice, long opposed by viewers and ABC, was ended in 1996. The Seattle ABC affiliate then tried to accommodate having to show their news earlier than the other TV stations in the city by marketing it as "KOMO 4 News Primetime," touting it as a way to watch the news at a more convenient time than evening rush hour.
- Additionally, this practice was done in Hawaii, where ABC affiliate KITV/Honolulu delayed the game until 6 p.m. HST, meaning either 11 p.m. or midnight eastern depending on which side of the daylight saving time date the game was played. Thus, the game, which was broadcast live on local radio starting at 3 or 4 p.m., was almost over before it aired on television.
- In the case of Guam, KTGM, the ABC affiliate in that U.S. territory, aired MNF live on Tuesdays at 11 a.m., which is due to Guam's being a day ahead of the United States.
- On ABC, the demand to broadcast Monday Night Football games live across the United States was difficult to reconcile with other prime time programming, which is usually set to begin at a certain local time regardless of time zone. On the East Coast, with MNF beginning at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, there was an hour of primetime in which to schedule regular programming. However, on the West Coast, the games lasted from 6:00–9:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (or in the case of Seattle and Portland 1970 to 1995, 7:00–10:30 p.m.), leaving little or no time for additional network programming on Monday. Thus, network shows scheduled for prime time on the East Coast were broadcast at various hours on the West Coast. Most affiliates pushed the network shows to immediately after the game; however, KABC in Los Angeles postponed them until 10 p.m. from at least the mid-1990s until 2005 to show trivia contests and other sports shows produced locally (the longest-tenured such show was Monday Night Live hosted by Todd Donoho). Meanwhile, KOMO, one of the stations that tape-delayed MNF in most cases, broadcast new episodes of the series Coach on Saturday afternoons (usually reserved, coincidentally enough, for college football telecasts; much of the series took place on a fictional college campus).
- Since ESPN took over the coverage in 2006, games normally have a kickoff time of 8:30 p.m. ET. However, when ESPN airs a doubleheader in the first week of the season, the games start at 7 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. ET.
- There have been issues with local stations in the ESPN era where home market stations airing the ESPN simulcast are in most cases ABC affiliates and have to pre-empt Dancing with the Stars due to airing coverage of the game; this both forces the affiliate to air that program immediately after the local news, and the program's telephone and Internet voting coordinators to keep a late-night voting window open for the market or markets where Dancing with the Stars was pre-empted. In some cases the program is moved to an affiliate's sister station to air live instead. (For example, if the Minnesota Vikings are playing a MNF game simulcast on KSTP, KSTC will air DWTS live.)
Facts and notable controversies
- The New York Jets and Cleveland Browns played in the first network broadcast of MNF in 1970, with the Browns winning 31–21. In the last network broadcast on December 26, 2005, the Jets lost to the New England Patriots; the final score was also 31–21.
- The first sponsor of MNF was Marlboro Cigarettes; this was before the FCC banned cigarette commercials from television.
- Monday Night Football was rarely defeated in the ratings during the 1970s. One such occasion was on October 28, 1974, when the Steelers–Falcons game was outdone by a heavily promoted episode of the CBS comedy Rhoda, in which Rhoda Morgenstern married Joe Gerard.
- On December 8, 1980, ABC News confirmed the shooting death of John Lennon during that evening's live MNF game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins (won by Miami 16–13). The first on-air announcement was made by Howard Cosell, who called it "an unspeakable tragedy."
- The Seattle Seahawks have the most Monday night shutouts with five. Also, they have shut out their opponents in three straight Monday Night appearances (Philadelphia Eagles in 2005: 42–0, the Oakland Raiders in 2006: 16–0, and the San Francisco 49ers in 2007: 24–0).
- From 1977 to 1986, ABC would air occasional Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday night NFL games. Each of these telecasts would be billed as a "Thursday/Saturday/Sunday Night Edition of Monday Night Football".
- From 1986 to 1989, Al Michaels would take one or more Monday nights off each October to work on ABC's postseason Major League Baseball coverage. Frank Gifford would revert to calling play-by-play for MNF on these occasions.
- There have been three occasions in which two Monday night games were played simultaneously, resulting in split TV coverage
- In 1987, a scheduling conflict arose when Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins went to Game 7 of the World Series (which also aired on ABC), making the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome unavailable for the Minnesota Vikings' scheduled game against the Denver Broncos that Sunday. The football game was subsequently moved to Monday night, and ABC aired it in the Twin Cities (KSTP) and Denver (KUSA) markets while the rest of the country got the regularly scheduled MNF game - the Los Angeles Rams/Cleveland Browns game in Cleveland (of note is that the Rams were originally based in Cleveland, and after moving to St. Louis, they would be the Browns' last opponent ever on the ABC program).
- A similar scenario unfolded in 1997, when the Florida Marlins went to Game 7 of the World Series and the Miami Dolphins' Sunday game against the Chicago Bears at Pro Player Stadium was shifted to Monday night on WPLG in Miami and WLS-TV in Chicago (which marked a rare instance of the Dolphins wearing their road jerseys in a night home game, since the game was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon – the Dolphins usually wear their home jerseys in night home games). The rest of the nation saw the Green Bay Packers/New England Patriots game from Foxboro, a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI (which would have aired on that game's network, Fox, had it been played on Sunday afternoon) - the only time that a rematch of the previous season's Super Bowl has aired on MNF.
- In 2010, the Vikings were forced to move a scheduled Sunday afternoon home game against the New York Giants after the roof of the Metrodome collapsed following a heavy snowfall. The game was moved to Ford Field in Detroit and played on Monday, December 13 at 7:20 p.m. EST, with Fox televising it only in the Giants and Vikings' TV markets. It was also available on the NFL Sunday Ticket package from DirecTV. The game, which the Giants won 21-3, also marked the end of Brett Favre's 297-game consecutive starts streak. The Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans met in the regularly scheduled game televised by ESPN, which the Ravens won 34-28 in overtime after blowing a 28-7 lead.
- For several occasions in the 1980s and early 1990s, the MNF broadcasting crew was used to cover one of the many college football bowl games on ABC. For example, the MNF crew of Michaels, Gifford, and Dierdorf called the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
- The MNF crew of Michaels, Gifford and Dierdorf made a cameo appearance in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire, during the fictional Monday Night Football game in the film. Pieces of the sequence were shot around an actual Monday night game between the Cardinals and the Cowboys in 1995.
- In 2002 the TNT cable network produced Monday Night Mayhem, a telefilm that dramatized the creation and early years of Monday Night Football.
- On October 27, 2003, the MNF game between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins was moved to a neutral site. The Cedar Fire in the San Diego area forced the teams to vacate Qualcomm Stadium, which was being used as an evacuation site. The game was moved to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe and shown as scheduled, marking the first MNF game there since 1999, when during a game against the Arizona Cardinals, quarterback Steve Young of the 49ers suffered the concussion that ended his career. The tickets for the game were free and the capacity crowd watched the Dolphins defeat the Chargers 26–10.
- In September 2005, the New Orleans Saints vacated from the Louisiana Superdome in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and were forced to move a scheduled Sunday afternoon home game against the New York Giants from New Orleans to Monday night at Giants Stadium. In a unique television doubleheader, the Saints–Giants game started at 7:30 p.m. Eastern and the first half aired on ABC; at 9 p.m. the game shifted to ESPN while ABC began its regularly scheduled MNF game of the Washington Redskins visiting the Dallas Cowboys (the Saints-Giants game was seen in its entirety in New York, Louisiana and other hurricane-affected areas on ABC, with the regularly scheduled MNF game shown on ESPN until the end of the first game). ABC and ESPN interspersed both games with an on-air telethon to raise money for aid to the hurricane's victims. The last two minutes of the second quarter and the entirety of the second half were not seen in Canada, as TSN, the cable network that held the rights to ESPN NFL games but not to MNF, chose instead to air WWE's Monday Night Raw (the highest rated show on basic USA cable), and ABC had switched to the start of the Dallas-Washington game. (TSN no longer has the rights to show Monday Night Raw and now shows all MNF games without interruption.)
- A change in the television contracts in 2006 prompted a significant change in the opening week. On September 11, 2006, the NFL staged its first scheduled Monday night doubleheader on the opening weekend of the season, with both games shown on ESPN. The Minnesota Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins, 19–16, in a game that started at 7 p.m. ET, and the San Diego Chargers topped the Oakland Raiders, 27–0, in a game that started at 10:15. ESPN broadcast a second doubleheader on September 10, 2007. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 27–20, followed by the San Francisco 49ers defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 20–17. The Cardinals–49ers game was delayed until 10:25 p.m. because the Ravens–Bengals game went beyond the allotted time. When the first game had still not ended by 10:25, the opening kickoff was moved to ESPN2. ESPN and ESPN2 simulcast roughly one minute of playing time of the second game immediately after the first game ended.
- As a coach, John Madden has the highest winning percentage (.740) in Monday Night Football history.
- The Packers have played all but five of the other 31 teams on MNF, more than any other team (the Packers have yet to play against the Cardinals, Bills, Bengals, Browns, and Texans on MNF). For similar data for the other teams, see the following: Monday Night Football series-by-series history: Unique opponents on Monday Night Football.
Foreign language versions
Since 2006, a Spanish-language telecast is also broadcasted on ESPN Deportes, the Spanish version of ESPN and on ESPN Latin América featuring NBA and NFL play-by-play announcer Alvaro Martin, Super Bowl winner Raul Allegre as color commentator and John Sutcliffe as the field reporter. This is the same crew of La NFL Dominical, the Spanish version of ESPN Sunday Night Football, until 2005. The announcers of the second game of the 2006 doubleheader were Eduardo Varela (play-by-play), Robert Abramowitz (color) and Georgina Ruiz Sandoval (field reporter). Preceding the game NFL Esta Noche (NFL Tonight), the 30-minute pre-game show, can be seen on both networks.
The four booth announcers called the 2007 season opening games from ESPN's Bristol, Connecticut headquarters while watching games on monitors. None of them traveled to the game sites and there were no sideline reporters in the early weeks. Sutcliffe would later report from the game sites. Allegre did not work the season finale between the Broncos and Chargers; he was replaced by Abramovitz.
In 2008, Martin and Allegre only travelled to the Cowboys-Eagles game, during the NFL's celebrations of the Hispanic Heritage Month.
Since the 1990s, ESPN Latin America has a feed in portuguese language targeted to their viewers in Brazil. Ivan Zimmermann (play-by-play), André José Adler (play-by-play), Roberto Figueroa (color), Marco Alfaro (color) among others, were the announcers broadcasting from ESPN's headquarters. Since 2006, the structure of the Brazilian feed was merged with ESPN Brasil and the broadcasting is made from São Paulo. The current announcers are Everaldo Marques (play-by-play) and Paulo Antunes (color). Ari Aguiar (play-by-play) and Eduardo Agra (color) occasionally fill-in.
Monday Night Football has also been carried on national radio networks over the years. The Mutual Broadcasting System aired the games initially, with Van Patrick (1972–1973) and Lindsey Nelson (1974–1977) announcing. CBS Radio took over in 1978 with Jack Buck and Hank Stram commentating. After a two-year stint (1985–1986) with Don Criqui and Bob Trumpy calling the games on NBC Radio, Buck and Stram resumed with CBS Radio in 1987. In 1996, Howard David and Matt Millen replaced Buck and Stram. Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason were the MNF radio voices from 2002 to 2009, with Kevin Harlan replacing Albert in 2010.
In the 1990s, CBS Radio purchased a controlling stake in Westwood One, which in turn had bought out both the NBC and Mutual networks. As of 2008, Westwood One was no longer controlled by CBS, but the network retained its NFL broadcast rights.
The highest-rated Monday Night Football telecast on ABC was the Miami Dolphins' victory over the previously undefeated Chicago Bears on December 2, 1985, which drew a national Nielsen rating of 29.6 and a share of 46. ABC's lowest-rated MNF game was the St. Louis Rams' defeat of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 18, 2004, which drew a 7.7 rating.
During the 1995-1996 TV season, Monday Night Football averaged a 17.1 household rating. Its main competitor, Murphy Brown, averaged a 12.3 rating.
The highest-rated Monday Night Football game on ESPN, and the highest-rated program in U.S. cable television history to date, was the Minnesota Vikings' defeat of the Green Bay Packers 30–23 on October 5, 2009, with a rating of 15.3. The game featured the much-hyped matchup of Vikings quarterback Brett Favre facing his longtime former Green Bay team. ESPN noted in a press release that the telecast "was watched by more than 16.8 million people. The previous record was more than 13.6 million viewers for 2008's Monday night game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. ESPN also stated that the game drew the highest rating in the network's 30-year history. The 15.3 rating beat the 14.4 for a Bears-Vikings game on Dec. 6, 1987, during ESPN's first season of televising NFL games". ESPN's lowest-rated MNF game to date was the New York Giants' defeat of the Atlanta Falcons on October 15, 2007, which drew a 5.7 rating.
ESPN's third season of Monday Night Football was the most watched series on cable television in 2008. It set an all-time cable viewership record for the third straight year and drew the year's three biggest cable household audiences and 13 of the top 15. In three seasons on ESPN, Monday Night Football has registered seven of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history, led by the Eagles-Cowboys telecast on 9/15/08, which attracted cable's largest household audience ever (an average of 12,953,000 million homes).
ESPN's 17 MNF telecasts in 2008 averaged a 8.9 rating, representing an average of 8,679,000 households (11,962,000 viewers), increases of 3%, 5% and 7%, respectively, vs. 2007 (8.6; 8,277,000 and 11,230,000).
- NFL on CBS
- NFL on Fox
- NFL on NBC
- Monday night games before 1970
- Monday Night Football all-time team standings
- Monday Night Football series-by-series history
- Monday Night Football results (1970–1989)
- Monday Night Football results (1990–present)
- Laughlin, Andrew (March 29, 2010). "ESPN to air NFL's Monday Night Football". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/digitaltv/news/a211221/espn-to-air-nfls-monday-night-football.html.
- Shapiro, Leonard; Maske, Mark (April 19, 2005). "'Monday Night Football' Changes the Channel". Washington Post: p. A1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A63538-2005Apr18?language=printer.
- Complete TV Ratings 1995-1996
- Favre's matchup with Packers draws record television audience
- Breaking News - Monday Night Football: Most-Watched Series on Cable
- Gunther, Marc, and Bill Carter. (1988). Monday Night Mayhem: The Inside Story of ABC's Monday Night Football. New York, NY: Beech Tree Books. ISBN 0-688-07553-3
- Monday Night Football at TV.com
- Monday Night Football at the Internet Movie Database
- Saying goodbye to Monday Night Football on ABC
- Vikings matchup with Packers draws ESPN record audience.