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1970 1st Monday Night Football game - NY Jets vs Cleveland Browns

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1970 1st Monday Night Football Game with Joe Namath & the New York Jets against the Cleveland Browns with Leroy Kelly

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In 1970, when everybody else was scared stiff about taking a chance on this new venture called Monday Night Football, Cleveland Browns management was confident enough in the marriage of the NFL and prime-time TV to offer their team as one of the sacrificial lambs for that first game. They even volunteered to use their facility, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, to be host site for the meeting with the New York Jets on Sept. 21 to conclude the opening weekend of regular-season play. No one knew for sure what would happen when a football game was aired nationally at night, during prime time, and on Monday, when the NFL had always played on Sunday afternoon. Nobody had ever tried that combination. Now ABC paid the NFL $34 million for four seasons of Monday Nights. The broadcasts would feature a three-man booth: Keith Jackson, former Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, and Howard Cosell. There were some ABC affiliates who thought this would flop and opted not to pick up the game, choosing instead other programming such as movies. The star of that first evening, the protagonist around whom the network trained its cameras, was Joe Namath, who got to display his talent to the nation in front of the largest crowd in Cleveland club history -- still -- 85,703. It is also important to note that this was the first season after the full merger of the AFL and NFL, so this marked the first regular-season game for the Browns against an old AFL club. That juiced up the atmosphere even more. Late in the fourth quarter, a Namath thirty-four-yard touchdown pass to George Sauer cut the Browns’ lead to 24-21. Soon Namath would have his chance to orchestrate a game-winning drive. But does the Cleveland defense cave-in to Broadway Joe or do they hold their ground to win?

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1970 1st Monday Night Football game - NY Jets vs Cleveland Browns

1970 1st Monday Night Football Game with Joe Namath & the New York Jets against the Cleveland Browns with Leroy Kelly

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