Since its debut on September 21, 1970, when the Jets faced the Browns in Cleveland, Monday Night Football has had just four play-by-play announcers. There will be a fifth this season as ESPN announced Monday that Sean McDonough will become the new voice of the series.
McDonough was considered the frontrunner for the job immediately after news broke two weeks ago that Mike Tirico was leaving ESPN for NBC. Here's a look at MNF's play-by-play history.
Jackson is often overlooked for his contribution to the inaugural season of Monday Night Football because he eventually became synonymous with ABC's college football coverage. But he got the call when ABC's first choice, Frank Gifford, had a year left on his contract at CBS.
Jackson worked the booth with Howard Cosell and Don Meredith, and witnessed one of the stories that became a big part of MNF lore. At the Giants-Eagles game in Philadelphia on November 23, 1970, Cosell didn't make it to the second half.
"Howard did throw up all over Meredith's cowboy boots," Jackson told the Los Angeles Times. "It was 28 degrees in Philly and Cosell had been drinking for three hours."
Gifford joined Cosell and Meredith in the second year of MNF, and the crew helped turn the show a cultural phenomenon in the 70s.
Mostly with Cosell and Meredith, Gifford remained the play-by-play voice on MNF until 1985. His analysts that season were Joe Namath and O.J. Simpson. In 1986, Gifford shifted to the commentator role as Al Michaels took over the play-by-play.
Michaels' first season as play-by-play man in 1986 featured Gifford as the lone commentator. (Gifford did a few more games on play-by-play in the late 80s when Michaels had a scheduling conflict with the MLB playoffs). Dan Dierdorf joined them in 1987, and that three-man crew worked together for 11 seasons. Michaels then continued with various analysts, including Dan Fouts, Boomer Esiason, Dennis Miller and John Madden.
When NBC got the rights to create Sunday Night Football in 2006, Michaels and Madden left ABC to work that broadcast. Monday Night Football then moved to ABC Sports' cable outlet, ESPN.
The final four seasons of MNF on ABC featured a two-man crew of Michaels and Madden. With the move to ESPN, the tradition of the three-man booth was restored. In his first season, Tirico partnered with Tony Kornheiser and Joe Theismann. Then for the next five seasons, Tirico worked with some combination of Kornheiser, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden. Starting in 2012, ESPN reverted to a two-man team with Tirico and Gruden.
Long respected as a consummate pro who shuns gimmicks, McDonough is a straight shooter with the versatility to do multiple sports at a high level. When his name came up as ESPN's logical replacement for Tirico, it was often accompanied by the description of "underrated." Maybe that's because McDonough, who turns 54 on Friday, was never the flashiest guy. But McDonough's style is all about serving the viewers, not selling hype.