No Monday Night Football equals no fun

By Bret Clevenger

So what are you doing tonight?

For about 15 million Americans, the answer is watching football. Monday Night Football has been a source of American identity for over 30 years.

We’ve all known where we can turn on a Monday night for something to do – ABC. We’ve known when and where to meet our good friends; the late Howard Cosell, Al Michaels or John Madden. Together, we’d all sit and watch the best football game the NFL had to offer.

Not after this year.

It was announced earlier this year ABC will no longer host Monday Night Football, and the marquee match up of the week will be shown on NBC on Sunday nights. ESPN’s second-tier game, normally shown on Sunday nights, will move to Mondays.

This is wrong on multiple levels.

Most importantly, the departure of Monday Night Football as we know it may lead to a serious increase in depression among men. For so many of us, the only thing that gets us out of bed on Monday mornings – knowing full well we have an entire week before we can have fun again – is the knowledge that we get to see a big match up between the Colts and the Patriots. Take that away from me and I just don’t know if I can get myself into work on Monday mornings. The amount of men taking Mondays off will be staggering.

The loss of Monday Night Football also puts a serious hole in a man’s drinking schedule. By now we’ve all got the routine down: Thursdays we drink because it’s bar night; Friday and Saturday are the weekend; and Sunday is our last day off for the week.

Monday wraps up the five-day weekend with Monday Night Football. Take that away and we have no reason to stare at the television and drink. What other excuse could we possibly have? This may lead to some of us actually having to do, gulp, homework on a Monday night. We cannot stand for this.

I know they’re going to give us a faux-Monday night football game on ESPN, but that will be nothing more than a shell of the event we once loved – nothing more than a bitter reminder of what once was. It’ll no longer be the marquee match up for the week.

A game loses its aura of importance when it’s not the “big game” and besides, who really wants to waste their time watching the Cardinals and the Seahawks? Not to mention having to sit through an ESPN NFL broadcast means three hours of Paul McGwire, Joe Theisman, and Mike Patrick. I cannot do this.

No matter how hard I try, no matter who is playing, I cannot sit through three hours of these guys. Sports Illustrated’s guru Paul Zimmerman agrees. In his commentator rankings last year, Zimmerman ranked the trio as the worst in football. He gives a fine metaphor of what watching a game with these three is like: “It’s like sitting in a sports bar and trying to watch a game, and right near you are a bunch of noisy drunks. Hey, will you guys pipe down? I’m trying to watch a game.”

There’s another major problem with the Monday night game being played on ESPN. Many people, including a large portion of college students, can’t even afford to pay for cable to see the game. Many of you, like me, are lucky to get ABC with the coat hanger sticking out the back of your TV. No matter how willing we are to watch two mediocre teams play while listening to horrible announcers, we cannot do it.

This is about much more than football. This is about big business messing with American culture in the name of money. NBC is paying $600 million a year for its Sunday-night games. In all, the NFL receives an average of $3.7 billion a year in TV revenues. This is up 50 percent from the last round of TV/NFL deals. Sadly, our national pastime was bought out by NBC and shipped to Sundays.

Monday Night Football is an important part of American culture and it has been sold to the highest bidder. Perhaps this is just a realization of the new American culture – big business and greed at all costs.

I hope not. I wake up every Monday morning hoping to read a headline along the lines of “Commissioner realizes mistake, brings MNF back to Monday.” In reality, that’s just a pipe dream. Instead, this time next year we’ll all be relegated to sitting around conversing about “the good old days” when Monday Night Football was an event.

Don’t take my Mother Goose. Don’t take my apple pie. And don’t take my Monday Night Football. It’s just plain un-American.

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.