John DePetro/The MMQB
John DePetro/The MMQB

ABC’s Monday Night Football Yellow Blazers

The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.

Looking back on the lunacy that was the beginning of ABC’s Monday Night Football, those outrageous yellow blazers worn by the broadcasters and pioneered by the Wide World of Sports crew was the least obnoxious thing. The day it was played, Monday, was an affront to some—weekday football had yet to be embraced by the public. Three announcers instead of two seemed excessive. And nine cameras instead of four? Sensory overload. ABC Sports president Roone Arledge’s plan: treat Monday Night Football like the Olympics.

We know now it was a pretty good idea. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle sold a yearlong package beginning in 1970 to Arledge and ABC for $8.5 million, only after Sunday broadcast partners NBC and CBS passed on the unconventional football night. Those same rights cost ESPN $1.1 billion in 2005. With the 500th broadcast in 2002, Al Michaels and John Madden donned the same canary yellow made famous by ABC’s original crew of Keith Jackson, Howard Cosell and Don Meredith.

— Robert Klemko

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