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Monday Night Football Will Start 16th Season

September 01, 1985|United Press International

SAN FRANCISCO — On Sept. 21, 1970, the lights at Cleveland Stadium came on and the course of NFL history was changed.

On that night, the American Broadcasting Companies took a bold step toward breaking the throttle hold of both its major competitors--NBC and CBS--on professional football telecasts. ABC televised the first Monday Night Football game.

Cleveland defeated the New York Jets, 31-21, in that first regular season prime time broadcast.

Across the country, the then Oakland Raiders were still licking their wounds from a 31-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Tom Flores, the future Raiders coach, was a player with the Kansas City Chiefs, who had been defeated the afternoon before, 27-10, by the Minnesota Vikings.

Little did either Flores or anyone in the Raiders franchise know that just four weeks from that September night the then Oakland Raiders would begin one of the most impressive streaks in professional football history. During the 15 years, the Raiders would post a 22-2-1 record playing on Monday night.

"I don't know the reason why we do so well on Monday night," said Flores, who took over as head coach of the Raiders in 1979. "Our players get up for the Monday night games, but so do other teams. I think tradition has a lot to do with it. The Raiders have a proud tradition on Monday night and that gives us a psychological boost."

That boost becomes apparent when the current Raiders players are asked about playing on Monday night.

"It just seems like when the lights go on, we turn on," said linebacker Matt Millen. "It seems like when someone says Monday night, we know we'll win."

Last season, the Raiders suffered only one of the two Monday night losses in their history, 17-14, to the Seattle Seahawks.

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