Greenbay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Referee

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Given the current state of NFL officiating, the hotly debated ending of the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks game could've happened on any night, but the fact that it happened on Monday night was appropriate.

From the dawn of Howard Cosell, Monday Night Football has specialized in firestorms. A look at some of the hottest: 

1. Cosell's "Little Monkey" Remark: A leading civil rights group demanded an apology from the love-to-hate-him icon after the broadcaster (who was white) referred to the Washington Redskins' Alvin Garrett (who is black) as a "little monkey" during a 1983 MNF game. In a time before everything was recorded by everyone and then uploaded to YouTube, Cosell at first denied he'd said any such thing. As criticism mounted, Cosell explained his comment was his way of "bragging on [Garrett] with affection and [with] a word I use when playing with my own grandson," which was true.

2. Terrell Owens Does Desperate Housewives: In 2004, the Federal Communications Commission received 50,000 comments—presumably not all of them compliments—after the then-Philadelphia Eagle blew off football for the embrace of an apparently naked Nicollette Sheridan in a filmed pre-game intro. Owens called the skit "fun"; ABC, the then-home of MNF, apologized.    

3. Hank Williams Jr. Gets Yanked: In a Monday-morning interview on Fox & Friends in 2011, the country star compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, and called Obama and Vice President Joe Biden the "enemy." Hours later, ESPN announced it would not air Williams' signature MNF music video, "All My Rowdy Friends," that night. The decision proved permanent, ending Williams' 22-year association with the big game.   

4. The Dennis Miller Experiment: In an apparent attempt by MNF to regain some of its Cosellian ability to infuriate, the broadcast hired Miller in 2000. The New York Times called the Saturday Night Live alum's first game "mediocre," and that was one of the better reviews. The funny-guy-in-the-booth shtick took for just two seasons, which is still longer than Rush Limbaugh, whom Miller beat out for the MNF gig, lasted in his own football stint at ESPN. 

5. Spitgate: Surely, MNF games have seen more violence, but perhaps nothing as in your face, literally, as the 1997 incident in which the Denver Broncos' Bill Romanowski was caught spitting at San Francisco 49ers' J.J. Stokes. "What I did was totally inexcuable," Romanowski said. It was also, owing to the spotlight of MNF, totally inescapable.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.