Terrell Owens

On Sept. 12, the 47th season of Monday Night Football kicks off with Steelers-Redskins and Rams-49ers. Since its premiere Sept. 21, 1970, Monday Night Football has transcended its status as merely a sporting event and has become a stage for some of the most important cultural events of the past half-century:

John Lennon's Assassination Announced

Getty Images John Lennon's Assassination Announced

During the Patriots-Dolphins game on Dec. 8, 1980, Howard Cosell tells viewers that he must inform them of "an unspeakable tragedy" and then proceeds to break the news that the Beatles star has been killed. "Rushed to Roosevelt Hospital," Cosell says. "Dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that newsflash."

Terrell Owens/Desperate Housewives

Getty Images Terrell Owens/Desperate Housewives

Before the Eagles-Cowboys game on Nov. 15, 2004, ABC airs a controversial skit starring actress Nicollette Sheridan and the NFL's own desperate housewife, T.O. Many people around the league, such as Tony Dungy, say the skit is too racy for network television -- Sheridan starts it draped in a towel and ends without it. Critics, though, argue that the most offensive part of the skit is T.O.'s acting.

Howard Cosell/Alvin Garrett

Getty Images Alvin Garrett

Cosell calls Garrett, a Redskins receiver, a "little monkey." Cosell always maintains that it is a term of endearment. Most of America seems to believe otherwise. This disconnect is the basis behind the biggest controversy of Cosell's 13-year career announcing Monday Night Football. Many people speculate that this controversy is what ultimately leads to Cosell's retirement from MNF the following season.

Dennis Green's Rant

Getty Images Dennis Green

In the Mount Rushmore of memorable lines from press conferences, there's Allen Iverson's "practice," Herm Edwards' "you play to win the game" and Jim Mora's "playoffs?" And then there's Dennis Green's meltdown after his Cardinals blow a 20-point second-half lead and lose to Chicago. The Bears finish 13-3 and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, but always remember that things might be different: "They are who we thought they were! And we let 'em off the hook!" The rant is later referenced in a TV commercial for Coors.

Saints Return After Katrina

Getty Images Superdome

Few sports teams mean more to their city than the Saints do to New Orleans. A year after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' rebuilding process is still in progress. The city finds solace, if only for an instant, during the Saints' rout of their division rival Falcons 23-3 in front of more than 70,000 fans in the Superdome.

LT Breaks Theismann's Leg

Getty Images LT Breaks Theismann's Leg

In perhaps the most gruesome in-game hit ever recorded, Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacks Joe Theismann, breaking the leg of the Redskins quarterback and ending his career. This video is not for those with a weak stomach. In fact, Taylor himself refuses to watch the hit to this day. It is a play that becomes well known beyond the scope of football.

Darryl Stingley Returns To Foxboro

Getty Images Darryl Stingley

In a 1978 preseason game against Oakland, Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley goes up for a catch and is hit in the head by Raiders safety Jack Tatum. Stingly is paralyzed from the neck down. On Sept. 3, 1979, Stingley returns to Schaffer Stadium in a wheelchair and receives a lengthy standing ovation from players, coaches and fans before the Patriots face the Steelers. "This is a moment to remember," Cosell says on the air. "As one ... looks at these people, one realizes what an athlete can come to mean to a population."

Terrell Owens And His Sharpie

Getty Images Terrell Owens And His Sharpie

In the godfather of all elaborate touchdown celebrations, T.O. scores against the Seahawks on Oct. 14, 2002, and takes a Sharpie out of his sock, signs the football and then gives it to a fan. Owens is enjoying one of the greatest seasons of his career, scoring 13 TDs, grabbing 100 receptions and racking up 1,300 yards, (while shooting just 56 death stares at his QB for not throwing him the ball).

Howard Cosell Overindugles

Getty Images Howard Cosell

There is a time and place to get wasted on national television. The time is Thursday nights at the place is the Jersey Shore. But in 1970, Cosell drinks so much on a Monday night in Philadelphia that he throws up on Don Meredith's cowboy boots in the booth. Cosell leaves the Eagles-Giants game early, later saying a "virulent virus” is what caused his slurred speech, and not the alleged martinis sent over by Eagles owner Leonard Tose.

The First Game

Getty Images Monday Night Football Announcers

The tradition of Monday Night Football begins on Sept. 21, 1970, with a game between Joe Namath's New York Jets and Leroy Kelly's Cleveland Browns. The Jets are more than a year removed from Joe Willies's famous guarantee of victory in Super Bowl III, but the Browns get the last laugh, defeating New York 31-21. Play-by-play man Keith Jackson shares the booth with Cosell and Meredith.