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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2005
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EDITORIAL

‘Monday Night Football’ was more than just a game

The Jets weren't the only losers Monday night when the Patriots defeated their Northeastern rivals 31-21.

American culture, enriched by 35 years of "Monday Night Football" on ABC, lost to emerging changes in advertising and the media.

ABC aired its final telecast of the series until at least 2014. Changes in broadcasting made the show too expensive for network television, which derives all its income from advertising. Estimates show the network lost $150 million on "Monday Night Football" last year, according to The Indianapolis Star.

ESPN will telecast the show on cable next season, banking on subscriber fees to make a profit.

Al Michaels, who is completing his 20th season doing play by play, told the Star that the broadcast is an American television institution.

"I think the median age is around 35 — so for more than half the people in this country, they've never had life without 'Monday Night Football.' "

Remember how we loved to hate a pompous broadcaster named Howard Cosell?

Cosell drove the show deeper into our culture every time he told it like it was. It was never better than when Cosell ran his mouth alongside straight man Frank Gifford and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith.

It's appropriate that the New York Jets helped bury the long-standing connection between Monday nights and ABC. The Jets, led by former University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, beat the Cleveland Browns in the first "Monday Night Football" on Sept. 21, 1970.

"Football is just a game," the realists often remind us.

For 35 years of Monday nights, however, it was something bigger.

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