Posts Tagged ‘Monday Night Football’

Broadway Joe kicked off MNF in 1970

This lockout is as much fun as a trip to the dentist so any news about any type of NFL football on my television screen is good news.

Which is why an email from NFLUK earlier this week made me grin maniacally from ear to ear.

ESPN in England (to all you USA based fans this is a watered down lot of programming and not a like for like ESPN feed that you would get) has made an agreement with the NFL to show old ‘episodes’ of Monday Night Football.

As someone who has almost half of his Sky+ recording box hard drive memory packed with about 50 episodes of ‘NFL America’s Game‘ I am an absolute Barry White on the sound system style lover when it comes to watching old NFL footage.

A number of games have already been scheduled in to be shown, including the inaugural episode, which will satisfyingly be the first ever MNF game, held on September 21 1970,  featuring the New York Jets (led by Broadway Joe Namath) and the Cleveland Browns.

Now I have to confess that as someone who has lived in England all his life I did not grow up with MNF, but as far as buying into the drama, the aura and the significance of the last game to be played every week during the regular season I think it is a perfect idea.

I only really agreed to pay for ESPN (an extra satellite tv subscription here in England) last year because it offered exclusive live MNF coverage. I would like to report that I got my money’s worth.

My highlight/lowlight from MNF last year was the coming out party of dog killer Michael Vick as he executed one of the greatest single game performances in regular season history (see here). As a Redskins fan and a Vick hater it was like watching a 3 hour car crash, but one that you could not help but rubberneck the entire time.

The ESPN retro MNF fun fest begins in July.

Hopefully it will be double good news by then, with real 2011 free agency under way and preparations for the 2011 NFL season in full swing.

Regardless, getting to watch NFL legends from the last four decades slug it out on my tv screen is going to be a treat.

 

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Nick Halling (left) is the NFL presenter in the UK – Aren’t we lucky! (pic from http://www.cheddarheads.co.uk)

Only a year ago NFL fans in the United Kingdom were treated to so much live NFL football it was probably better to live in Birmingham, England than Birmingham, Alabama if you wanted non-stop live action in your living room.

 
We had the choice of two live games at the 1pm EST Sunday kickoff and two live games for the 4pm/4.15pm EST Sunday kickoff (all via satellite channel Sky Sports), live Sunday Night football and live Monday Night football (on terrestrial station Channel 5) and the likes of regular showings of NFL Network’s Total Access every few days and America’s Game each week (also both Sky Sports).
 
We also had live Saturday Night games, all the Thanksgiving  games and all the NFL playoffs live.
 
Now we have only one game 1pm EST Sunday and 1 game 4pm EST on Sunday (on Sky Sports), live Sunday Night football (on Channel 5), NFL Game Day (once a week) NFL Total Access a lot less frequently and a repeat of the America’s Game shows that everyone has seen twice over at least (also both Sky Sports).
 
UK fans have gained a new NFL magazine show, aired each Saturday morning. Despite the presenters being smug and just not my cup of tea, the highlights on the show are fantastic and succinct and the effort to get new fans to follow the NFL in the UK should be applauded.
 
What we in the UK have completely lost however is goddam MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. We have also been fed some bullshit in the last two weeks from Sky Sports that they have had to significantly cut back the coverage of NFL Total Access (which is broadcast 24 hours AFTER its live in the US of A) because American advertisers are so aggressive with their sponsorship they are making the show uneditable for a UK audience.
 
Sky Sports NFL presenter Nick Halling was nervously smiling as his co-presenter Kevin ‘Monarkkks’ Cadle was forced to read out the ‘legal bit’ as to why Sky Sports were cutting the NFL Total Access airings Monday to Thursday.  
 
As a viewer and a Sky Sports subscriber I was not laughing. I am bitter about the coverage of LIVE NFL football being scaled back, as Monday Night Football this season (2009) seems to have been one classic match after the other as we reach the half-way point of the NFL regular season.
 
The guy in charge of the NFL in the UK Alistair Kirkwood should resign for his appalling handling of the live NFL coverage in the UK.
 
Mad? I’m hotter than the devil wearing five duffel coats chewing on a bag of Birds Eye chilli peppers whilst descending into the pits of hell on a fireball.
 
There are bigger things to worry about in the world I know, but depriving a UK audience from the joy of Monday Night Football is like taking the oxygen away from an ill patient in hospital. Eventually that patient will either get better and get on with their life, forgetting the past and looking for a new life, or they will wither and die, gasping for one last breath.
 
After such a great job was done to promote the NFL at Wembley just over a week ago, it seems a huge waste to keep cutting down the live NFL coverage in the UK.
 
Someone talk to the MNF people and get them to bring it back to this side of the pond. We love MNF and life is not the same without it.
 
What are YOUR thoughts on this? As a fan in the USA or in the rest of Europe what sort of coverage do you get?