5 Memorable Moments During "Monday Night Football"

On September 21, 1970, "NFL Monday Night Football" debuted on ABC with commentators Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Keith Jackson. Here are 5 memorable moments that happened during Monday Night Football...


“Monday Night Football” Gave Big Breaks to Many Players None of the breaks matched Joe Theismann, the quarterback for the Washington Redskins, when he broke his right leg live on nationwide television. It was on November 18, 1985, in a game with the New York Giants that Theisman was tackled by Lawrence Taylor, which resulted in a compound fracture with one of the bones protruding from his skin. ABC was kind enough to replay the image approximately…oh, 837 times. Still, there is one person who to this day has never seen the play — Theismann himself. 

A Protest Began After Racist Remarks by Sports Announcer Howard Cosell Although Cosell was a big supporter of black athletes, his mouth often got him into trouble, especially after he said, "That little monkey gets loose…" about RedSkins player Alvin Garret. Cosell resigned in 1983 before the next season began. The statement was denounced as racist, but it was pointed out that Cosell had regularly used the same term to describe small players of all races.


Howard Cosell Announced John Lennon’s Death On December 8, 1980, during a Dolphins-Patriots game, Cosell announced the death of John Lennon to the audience that was watching and people in the stands. Since the number of television channels was limited in those days, CBS had forwarded the news to the sports broadcasters at the game and asked that the announcement be made.  John Madden, an analyst for the NFL, said it was the way things were in the days before there were multiple news sources.

Millions of People Watched the Game on December 3, 1985 Around 70 million viewers watched the heavily anticipated game between the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins in 1985 because the Bears had a 12-0 record, and if they won, it would mean they had a perfect season. That was before Dan Marino of the Dolphins threw three stunning passes for touchdowns, and Ron Davenport ran the distance for two more. The score ended up 38 Dolphins and 24 Bears.

Howard Cosell Got Really Drunk at One of the Games Many people associate Monday Night Football with downing a few drinks, but not usually in the announcers’ booth. While broadcasting a 1970 Eagles-Giants game, Howard Cosell was slurring his words before disappearing in the second quarter. Legend has it that martinis sent over by the Eagles owner is what did him in, leading Cosell to vomit on colleague Don Meredith’s cowboy boots. Cosell later blamed his demeanor on the effects of ”a virulent virus.”