Monday Night Football Before Howard Cosell

As the Packers prepare to play the Chiefs this Monday night, it’s interesting to remember that Green Bay played on Monday night three times before ABC introduced Monday Night Football as a regular thing in 1970.

The Packers faced the Lions in Detroit on September 28, 1964 in the first meeting in other a year of Paul Hornung and Alex Karras following their one-year suspensions from the NFL for gambling. This game also marked the first time since 1950 that the Packer-Lion game in Detroit was not played on Thanksgiving. Bart Starr led Green Bay to a 14-3 lead in the first half, but injured his shoulder and had to leave the game after the first series in the second half. With Zeke Bratkowski under center, the Pack only gained 34 yards for the rest of the game. The Lions, too, changed quarterbacks from Milt Plum to Earl Morrall, and Earl completed 11 of 12 passes. His one misfire was intercepted by safety Hank Gremminger on the Green Bay five in the fourth quarter. Gremminger later clinched the 14-10 victory by recovering a Pat Studstill fumble at midfield in the closing minutes.

Three years later, the Packers faced the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, October 30, 1967 in St. Louis. The Cardinals were led by rookie quarterback Jim Hart and gave the defending champions all they could handle. Herb Adderley started the scoring with a 12-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter, but he was beaten for touchdowns of 48 and 49 yards by rookie receiver Dave Williams. The second Williams score gave the Cardinals a 23-17 lead in the fourth quarter, but that lasted only one play. On the ensuing kickoff, Packers rookie Travis Williams, getting his first chance to return kicks, took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for the go-ahead score in a 31-23 Packer victory.

The final Packer Monday night game of the 1960s occurred on October 28, 1968 when the 2-3-1 defending champs limped into Dallas to face the 6-0 Cowboys. After spotting Dallas a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, Bart Starr took over the game. Starr threw four touchdown passes in the game, two to tight end Marv Fleming, while Dandy Don Meredith was picked off three times in the Packers 28-17 win. The triumph was a rare high point in Phil Bengtson’s first year as head coach. As a side note, Errol Mann drilled all four extra points, but missed his only field goal attempt after being activated from the taxi squad that week.

1964phgremminger3  1967ptwilliams3

1968tmfleming5  1968temann

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2 thoughts on “Monday Night Football Before Howard Cosell

  1. Thanks for this, very interesting. I happened to notice on ProFootballReference.com the Dallas game being on a Monday. Any idea why these games were played on Mondays? Was it the NFL being Goodell-esque during the Rozelle years? Go Pack!

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    • Rozelle was pushing to have a regular Monday Night telecast for several years before ABC took him up on it. A handful of games from 1964-69 were the prototypes to display the public’s interest.

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