THE OPTIMIST: Bucs Monday Night HighlightsSeptember 30th, 2011
THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the Buccaneers goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of BucStop.com, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.
THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.
It’s Back! Monday Night Football!
I started thinking about how a lot of today’s fans havn’t really had a chance to enjoy their Bucs on Monday Night Football, and if you became a Bucs fan after the SuperBowl when Chris Simms was our QB or later, you don?t remember the days of Sapp, Lynch or the rebirth of MNF on the Gulf Coast.
So let me take you down memory lane as you get ready for Prime Time on Monday.
The Bucs became a team in 1976, and almost instantly Bucs fans learned to loathe MNF, not so much because we were never on it, but we never got to see our team on the halftime highlights.
Because they were narrated by Howard Cosell, Bucs fans learned to hate the nasal announcer. It wasn’t his fault — blame the producers — but that didn’t stop Tampa Bay from hating Mr. Cosell.
Finally, after the magical 1979 season, the MNF team awarded the Bucs two Monday night Games (one on Monday, one a Thursday Night special edition vs the LA Rams in a rematch of the NFC Championship game.) The Bucs scored 10 points to avenge their 9-0 loss — 10-9 on a late Doug Williams touchdown.
During the game, a MNF Camera panned the crowd and showed a sign reading MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL with a photo of Howard Cosell. After a brief moment, it was revealed it was two signs, and the half that said MNF dropped showing the words “COSELL SUCKS!”
“We’re not going to touch that.” announcers said.
A few appearances later, during a disasterous 1983 season, the Bucs put the country to sleep with a 12-9 OT win over Green Bay, and even though it was Week 15, it was Cosell’s last game on MNF.
Fifteen years later a whole new crew of MNF appeared in Tampa as the Bucs hosted the Packers again, only this time with Pewter uniforms at Raymond James Stadium. The place was rocking as MNF hadn’t been in Tampa Bay for a decade and a half. Some people got too excited.
One guy ran onto the field and was leveled by a state trouper thatlooked like a middle linbacker, all caught on film by the MNF crew, showing how crazy we were for primetime in Tampa Bay.
Even though it hasn’t been 15 years, Bucs fans of late have a lot to look forward to on Monday. The nation will be watching us; and, as I mentioned above, we have always had something good for MNF to show to the country:
1999: Rookie Shaun King gets his first start, and throws two TDs to beat the Vikings.
2000: A fake punt Mike Alstott pass to a wide open Dave Moore was overthrown.
2000: St. Louis Rams came to town for a rematch of NFC Championship game, and fans saw the best Bucs game of all time.
2002: Keyshawn Johnson and head coach Jon Gruden get into an argument on the sideline for the cameras, but it would be ok. They’d win a Super Bowl togetherin a few months
2003: Bucs open “The Linc” in Philly with a 17-0 shut out of the Eagles
2004: Rams Adam Archuletta pulls in a ball that fell off of Michael Pittman’s ankle and returns it for a Rams touchdown
2008: The Bucs at 9-3 give up 300 yards rushing to a 9-3 Panther team that started a four-game losing streak for the Bucs that cost Jon Gruden his job, and put him in the MNF Booth — to call this game Monday.
If you didn’t get all that, see you in 10 years, we’ll have a bunch of new MNF history to tell the new fans then. And it all starts Monday.