The story of the creation and heyday of ABC’s Monday Night Football, told mostly from the point of view of Howard Cosell. Starring John Turturro.
Wikipedia has a large article on MNF history, shown here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monday_Night_Football
Howard Cosell - Monday Night Football
In 1970, ABC executive producer for sports Roone Arledge hired Cosell to be a commentator for Monday Night Football, the first time in 15 years that American football was broadcast weekly in prime time. Cosell was accompanied most of the time by ex-football players Frank Gifford and "Dandy" Don Meredith.
Cosell was openly contemptuous of ex-athletes appointed to prominent sportscasting roles solely on account of their playing fame. He regularly clashed on-air with Meredith, whose laid-back style was in sharp contrast to Cosell's.
The Cosell-Meredith-Gifford dynamic helped make Monday Night Football a success; it frequently was the number one rated program in the Nielsen ratings. Cosell's inimitable style distinguished Monday Night Football from previous sports programming, and ushered in an era of more colorful broadcasters and 24/7 TV sports coverage.
On the night of December 8, 1980, during a game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, Cosell stunned millions by announcing the murder of John Lennon live while performing his regular commentating duties on Monday Night Football:
“ This, we have to say it, remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. ”
Lennon was actually shot four times. Facts on the shooting were not clear at the time.
Lennon had appeared on Monday Night Football during the December 9, 1974 telecast and was interviewed for a short breakaway segment by Cosell.
The "little monkey" incident
Cosell drew criticism during one Monday Night Football telecast in September 1982, for stating "look at that little monkey go," when he referred to a play by black wide receiver Alvin Garrett of the Washington Redskins. While some saw "little monkey" as a racial slur, others were quick to point out that he used this term routinely in an approving way to describe quicker, smaller players of all ethnicities. Among the evidence adduced to support this claim is video footage of a 1972 preseason game, between the New York Giants and the Kansas City Chiefs, during which Cosell refers to Mike Adamle, a 5-foot-9-inch, 197-pound white, as a "little monkey."
Cosell left Monday Night Football shortly before the start of the 1984 NFL season. Afterwards, his duties were then reduced to only baseball, horse racing, and a sports news program called Sportsbeat. Howard Cosell never got a chance to commentate a Super Bowl, as by the time ABC finally got into the Super Bowl rotation with Super Bowl XIX, Cosell was already gone from Monday Night Football.