Top 12 Best Monday Night Football Moments

We’re going to look back at the best Monday Night Football moments. NFL fans have been tuning in to watch MNF games for over fifty years and there have been lots of memorable moments.

Old School MNF Logo
Old School MNF Logo

It all started in 1970. The first Monday Night Football game featured the Joe Namath-led Jets taking on the Browns at Cleveland Municipal Stadium on September 21st 1970. The game aired on ABC and the Browns won (31-21). The first MNF broadcasters were Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Keith Jackson.

What Are the Best Monday Night Football Moments?

Here’s our list of the best Monday Night Football moments in chronological order:

1. Howard Cosell Gets Drunk

Game: Giants vs. Eagles on November 23rd, 1970

During the first season of MNF, Cosell famously got wasted and was slurring his words. He had to leave the game at halftime after puking on Meredith’s cowboy boots. Cosell said he had a “virulent virus”.

2. Darryl Stingley Emotional Return to Foxboro

Game: Steelers vs. Patriots on September 3rd, 1979

The Patriots opened up the 1979 season at home against the Steelers on MNF. As halftime was nearing, the electronic scoreboard lit up with a short message that said “Welcome back, Darryl”. Fans erupted with cheers and the game was halted for over ten minutes.

Stingley was paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game and the season-opener in 1979 was the first time he was back at Schaefer Stadium.


3. John Lennon’s Assassination Announcement

Game: Patriots vs. Dolphins on December 8th, 1980

Cosell makes our list of best Monday Night Football moments for a second time, as he announced to all of the viewers watching that John Lennon had just been assassinated outside of his apartment in NYC. Cosell had previously interviewed Lennon on a Monday Night Football broadcast back in 1974.

4. Joe Theismann Career-Ending Injury

Game: Giants vs. Redskins on November 18th, 1985

Theismann’s football career came to an abrupt end on MNF in 1985. The Redskins called a flea flicker, but it didn’t surprise anyone and Theismann was sacked by Lawrence Taylor. Theismann’s right leg was snapped and he would never play football again.

Theismann moved into the commentators booth and even did a season of MNF. Theismann and Lawrence have both stated they haven’t watched the replay. Have you seen it? Do you want to?

The play was voted as the #1 most shocking moment in football history in an ESPN fan poll.

5. First MNF Game After 9/11

Game: Redskins vs. Packers on September 24th, 2001

After the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, the NFL postponed Week 2 games that were scheduled for September 16th-17th. The NFL came back the following week and the MNF game between the Redskins and Packers was the first nationally televised broadcast after the attacks.

6. Terrell Owens Sharpie Touchdown Celebration

Game: 49ers vs. Seahawks on October 14th, 2002

With the bright lights shining on MNF, we’ve seen some interesting touchdown celebrations, but none are more memorable than Owens’ sharpie celebration. After scoring a 37-yard touchdown against Seattle in a Week 6 game, Owens pulled out a sharpie, signed the football and gave it to his financial advisor.

This stunt caused the NFL to ban players from carrying any “foreign objects” on the field.

7. Saints Return to Superdome After Hurricane Katrina

Game: Falcons vs. Saints on September 25th, 2006

The Saints played the entire 2005 regular season away from home because of Hurricane Katrina. They went 3-13, but during the offseason they brought in head coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees.

After starting the 2006 season 2-0 on the road, the Saints returned to the Superdome in Week 3 for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The sold out crowd of over 70,000 fans were electric and the Saints ended up dominating the Falcons (23-3). The Saints made the NFC Championship Game in 2006 as well.

8. Dennis Green’s Monday Night Meltdown

Game: Bears vs. Cardinals on October 16th, 2006

The Cardinals lost to the Bears in Week 6 of the 2006 season. At the time, the Cardinals were 1-4 and the Bears were 5-0. Arizona blew a 20-point lead and lost 24-23 despite not allowing an offensive touchdown. At the postgame press conference, Green went on a bit of a rant where he famously said, “They are who we thought they were and we let them off the hook”. Coors Light later released a commercial with Green.

9. “Fail Mary” With Replacement Refs

Game: Packers vs. Seahawks on September 24th, 2012

It was not only one of the best Monday Night Football moments, but it was one of the most controversial calls in Monday Night Football history.

On the final play of the game, Russell Wilson threw up a prayer that appeared to be intercepted by M.D. Jennings, but Golden Tate also had a hand on the football. Two officials near the play made alternate calls (TD and INT). After a lengthy review, the touchdown call was confirmed and the Seahawks ended up winning (14-12). The game was using replacement officials due to a labor dispute, but the work stoppage ended quickly after this game-deciding play.

10. Game Ends With a “Kick Six”

Game: Ravens vs. Browns on November 30th, 2015

Not many fans had the Ravens (3-7) vs. Browns (2-8) Week 12 MNF game featuring QBs Josh McCown and Matt Schaub marked on the calendar as must-watch TV. However, the game featured one of the best Monday Night Football moments.

With the game tied (27-27), kicker Travis Coons lined up for a 51-yard field goal attempt on the final play of regulation, but it was blocked and Will Hill scooped up the football and scored a touchdown with no time left on the clock to give the Ravens the victory (33-27).

11. “BoogerMobile” Causes Controversy

Game: Multiple MNF Games During the 2018 Season

ESPN tried to innovate Monday Night Football coverage during the 2018 season with the “BoogerMobile”.

It was a blatant failure.

Anthony “Booger” McFarland was entering his first season as a sideline reporter and ESPN built a custom elevated chair that moved down the sideline. However, it blocked the view of fans attending the games and sitting in some of the most expensive seats in the stadiums. There was a lot of backlash and ESPN officially got rid of the “BoogerMobile” before the 2019 season.

12. Damar Hamlin Collapses

Game: Bills vs. Bengals on January 2nd, 2023

In a highly anticipated Week 17 MNF showdown during the 2022 season, fans witnessed one of the most scary moments in NFL history. After making what looked like a routine tackle, Hamlin stood up and then quickly collapsed on the field. He suffered cardiac arrest and was in critical condition.

With players and fans shocked, the game was postponed and later on canceled completely. Miraculously, Hamlin has recovered completely and has been cleared to resume football activities.

Recapping the Best Monday Night Football Moments

As you can see from reading our list of the best Monday Night Football moments, a lot of the moments we discussed weren’t joyous. Whether it was career-altering injuries or broadcasters having too much fun in the booth, the best MNF moments won’t soon be forgotten and will remain a part of NFL history.

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Joe Berra
Joe Berra
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