I promised myself I wouldn't. Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks.
One team is dangerous but injured. The other team is… well, the Raiders. There was absolutely no reason to watch Monday Night Football on this night. But much like a moth to a fresh new tire fire, there I was watching it. Man, those folks at ESPN are good.
The "Worldwide Leader" always loads up with about six hours of programming hyping up the game, not counting the countless TV spots throughout the week reminding you just how many days it is until Monday, because none of us own calendars.
And then the game arrives. Is it a good one? Well, that's contingent on luck.
Three weeks ago, MNF was extremely lucky to air the Arizona Cardinals' befuddling collapse to the Chicago Bears, blowing a 13-point lead in the final five minutes. Now that was a game.
Then there were nights like this last night. Raiders and Seahawks. They threw all sorts of nostalgia at us. Memories of Bo and The Boz — Bo Jackson and Brian Bosworth. But here's when I will care about Bo and The Boz. When it's 1 p.m. on a weekday, I'm home from work, and nothing is on TV but NFL Films.
On this night, I didn't see much actual football. The Raiders' offense had more negative action than a 1960s' darkroom. The reigning NFC champion Seahawks were without their two impact stars, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and running back Shaun Alexander, both sitting out due to injury.
Oakland became the first team ever to be shutout twice on MNF in the same season after losing 16-0. A touchdown and three field goals. Excuse me while I attempt to harness my excitement.
If the game is an egg on a given night, there's nothing MNF can accomplish to make the game more interesting. And that includes converting the show into a testosterone-laden edition of The View. (Doesn't mean they won't try!)
In the second quarter the broadcast booth welcomed in Christian Slater, who pitched his upcoming movie Bobby, which seems to feature a cavalcade of stars, assuming the year is 1997. And you could just tell he cared so much about football. He said he was a fan of the New York Jets, which is amazing timing for a night featuring two teams on the West coast.
I'll let ESPN's ombudsman George Solomon speak for me here. "It's a football game, not a night-time talk show." Although I can certainly see bringing Slater in on MNF. It'd give him and Michael Irvin something to talk about.
But while the pure football fan may not enjoy the show, the spectacle is still bringing in the ratings. Two weeks ago, the Cowboys-Giants game brought in the largest rating (12.8) in cable history. The occasion gave everyone at ESPN a free cafeteria coupon. No, seriously.
As for last week, their halftime inflatable ESPN personalities' race just confused the heck out of everybody, including our managing editor. (Which isn't that hard to do, granted.) But that couldn't have been good for the ratings to see an 8-foot goofy-looking Joe Theismann scuttle across the field.
The American tradition of watching a football game on Monday night, I've learned this year, is a tough habit to break. The product certainly has changed, but the programming — despite the number of ridiculously loud personalities and corporate tie-ins — will always feature two teams playing football. But please beware that, occasionally one of those teams will be the Raiders.
So take Craig Lyndall's advice. Watch it and turn down the sound. Strap on the iPod and get some writing done. Because, come Tuesday, you'll be asked about that Cardinals-Bears game, and you don't want to turn it off prematurely.
And once the game is over, it's only … uh oh, I suddenly forgot how to do simple arithmetic. Hey ESPN, how many more days is it?Powered by Sidelines