Michael MacCambridge's 2004 America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation:
The unified and expanded National Football League, now comprising twenty-six teams in two thirteen-team conferences, kicked off its fifty-first season on Sunday, September 19, 1970. The future of American spectator sports arrived the following evening, at 9:00 p.m. EDT on the ABC Television Network, as the opening weekend's final game and was introduced on prime-time television, not with a shot of the stadium, or the crowd, or the key players, but instead with a self-referential scene set inside a television control booth, and the voice-over of a director urgently counting down, "Five seconds to air, four, three, two, and . . . take tape! As a jazzy riff surged forward and the opening titles flashed on the screen, Monday Night Football took to the air.
From Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Cleveland Browns would play host to the New York Jets, ABC's play-by-play man Keith Jackson opened the broadcast, before turning it over to his broadcast partner, Howard Cosell, standing down on the field. "It is a hot, sultry, almost windless night here," Cosell intoned, and his voice bespoke gravity, a sense of occasion. It was, to be sure, just another regular season football game. But in the electric tension of the sellout crowd and the urgency of Cosell's delivery, it was as though something more important was going on. Sports in America would never be the same.
Tags: America's Game, Michael MacCambridge