TV Article

Monday Night Football's 10 Most Memorable Moments

Here is a look back at the agony and the ecstasy.

1  Many players have gotten their big break playing on Monday Night Football, but no break was as big — or as gruesome — as Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann's right leg. ''That's the shot everyone remembers,'' says MNF analyst John Madden, ''where Lawrence Taylor hits him. You knew immediately that that was it for Joe Theismann.'' And it was — the QB never played again. But for all those who miraculously did not vomit the first time while watching Theismann's bone snap and protrude out of 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. ''I have no desire to look at it,'' says the victim (who, ironically enough, will be announcing MNF games on ESPN next year). ''I know what happened.'' NOV. 18, 1985

2 What started off as unintentionally hilarious (Terrell Owens saying selfless things like ''Donovan needs me'' and ''All of Philadelphia is counting on me'') turned downright scandalous when Nicollette Sheridan dropped her towel to reveal nothing — and everything — in a racy pregame skit. ''It was in poor taste,'' says Theismann. ''Especially on the heels of the Janet Jackson situation at the Super Bowl. Something like that has its place — on Desperate Housewives.'' NOV. 15, 2004

3 Controversial announcer (and civil rights activist) Howard Cosell ignited protest after calling Redskins wideout Alvin Garrett a ''little monkey.'' Cosell quit before the next season. SEPT. 5, 1983

4 ''An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City.'' It fell to Cosell, during a Patriots-Dolphins game, to break the news to much of America that John Lennon had been killed. ''There weren't all the other news sources then,'' says Madden of the early-'80s three-channel universe. ''If they were watching the game now and that happened, they'd get the news from 100 other places as well.'' DEC. 8, 1980

5 After being paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game, Patriots wideout Darryl Stingley made an emotional return to Schaeffer Stadium for the 1979 opener against the Steelers, where he received a standing ovation from both players and fans. SEPT. 3, 1979

6 It remains the most anticipated and watched (by about 70 million people) Monday Night Football game ever: the 12-0 Chicago Bears taking on Dan Marino and the only franchise ever to boast a perfect season — the Miami Dolphins. ''I didn't think anybody could beat the Bears,'' says Madden. ''That's the most dominant defense that I've ever seen.'' But with several members of the undefeated 1972 Dolphins team in attendance, Marino shredded Chicago for a 38-24 victory. For the Bears, the loss still proved only half as embarrassing as ''The Super Bowl Shuffle.'' DEC. 2, 1985

7 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, Cosell was slurring his words before disappearing in the second quarter. (''I heard he took a taxi from Philadelphia all the way home to New York,'' says Madden.) Legend has it that martinis sent over by the Eagles owner 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.'' NOV. 23, 1970

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