Monday Night Football Celebrates 40th Season

NFL 2009 | Monday Night Football Celebrates 40th Season

NFL Monday Night Football kicks off its 40th season on September 14 with an "AFL 50th" doubleheader on ESPN and a new face in the broadcast booth!

Opening night on MNF features four clubs that began playing in the inaugural 1960 AFL season.

The first game (7:00 PM ET) will send the Buffalo Bills to Foxboro to visit the New England Patriots, the decade's winningest team (102-42 since 2000). The MNF nightcap (10:15 PM ET) will be an AFC West battle as the Oakland Raiders host the three-time defending division champion San Diego Chargers.

Former Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach JON GRUDEN, who took part in 11 MNF games as a head coach, joins MIKE TIRICO and RON JAWORSKI in the broadcast booth.

"He has a tremendous football mind and his career speaks for itself," Jaworski says of Gruden. "He will bring a unique perspective to Monday Night Football and I am excited to work with him."

The trio will be joined on location by SUZY KOLBER and MICHELE TAFOYA.

ESPN will again use its ESPN Axis "virtual" replays on the Monday-night telecasts. This technology creates three-dimensional, birds-eye views of key plays from multiple angles, allowing analysts to highlight locations and movements of players to better explain how plays develop.

Monday Night Football was created in 1970 when NFL Commissioner PETE ROZELLE proposed a weekly prime-time game to the networks. ABC Sports president ROONE ARLEDGE convinced the network to televise the series and went about creating a weekly event. The longest-running prime-time entertainment series of all-time, NFL Monday Night Football has made a lasting impression since its first telecast (New York Jets at Cleveland Browns) on September 21, 1970 on ABC.

In 2008, ESPN's Monday Night Football was the most-watched series on cable with an average of 12.0 million viewers. Monday Night Football accounted for 14 of the 15 most-watched cable programs (excluding breaking news) last fall, including the most watched show in cable history (Eagles-Cowboys on September 15; 18.6 million viewers).

TV's Longest Continuously-Running Prime-Time Entertainment Series

Program Years
Source: The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1946-present
Walt Disney (ABC, CBS, NBC)29 (1954-82)
Ed Sullivan (CBS)24 (1948-71)
The Simpsons (FOX)21 (1989-current)
Red Skelton (NBC, CBS)20 (1951-71)
Gunsmoke (CBS)20 (1955-75)


MNF Announcers Over The Years

Years Announcers
Source: National Football League
1970Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1971-73Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1974Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Alex Karras, Fred Williamson (Preseason)
1975-76Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Alex Karras
1977-78Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith
1979-82Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Fran Tarkenton
1983Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson
1984Frank Gifford, Don Meredith, O.J. Simpson
1985Frank Gifford, O.J. Simpson, Joe Namath
1986Al Michaels, Frank Gifford
1987-97Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf
1998Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf, Boomer Esiason
1999Al Michaels, Boomer Esiason
2000-01Al Michaels, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller
2002-05Al Michaels, John Madden
2006Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser
2007-08Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser
2009-Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden


NFL 2009 | Monday Night Football Celebrates 40th Season