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No More Week 1 NFL Monday Night Football Doubleheader

Ross Everett
by in NFL on
  • The NFL is eliminating the Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader effective this season.
  • The doubleheader has been an annual event since 2006.
  • The doubleheader is being replaced with a Week 18 twin bill involving teams with playoff implications.

While I’m not sure that the Week 1 NFL Monday Night Football doubleheader is old enough–or sufficiently revered–to be called a ‘tradition’ it has become a regular event at the start of each season. With the league’s new television deal, however, the Week 1 MNF doubleheader is fading into history. Effective this season, there will be no more Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheaders which may or may not evoke anger or, more likely, apathy.

The NFL taketh away but they’re also going to ‘give-th’. In this case, they’re replacing the Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader with a Week 18 Saturday doubleheader–this season it’ll take place on January 8, 2022. This was added into the new TV contract and will begin this season. Here’s the catch–it’ll involve games that have some sort of playoff implication. Obviously, the league will have to ‘flex’ matchups into the spots to make sure that they involve playoff implications as advertised.

If, for whatever reason, you are a fan of Monday Night Football doubleheaders the news is not all bad. In fact, on a macro level you’re going to have it better than ever. ESPN picks up three Monday Night games starting in 2023–these will be played in addition to the regular MNF spot on ABC. The early game will air on ESPN, the later game will air on ABC and that means you’ll have three–count them–three NFL Monday Night Football double headers.

At the time the NFL’s new TV deal was signed ESPN and sports content chairman Jimmy Pitaro released this self congratulatory statement:

“When ESPN and the NFL work best together, the results are transformational for sports fans and the industry. Some of the most remarkable collaborative examples have occurred in the past 12 months and have demonstrated the extraordinary range of The Walt Disney Company that is fundamental to this agreement. There are so many exciting new components, including Super Bowls and added playoff games, new end-of-season games with playoff implications, exclusive streaming games on ESPN+, scheduling flexibility and enhancements, and much more. It’s a wide-ranging agreement unlike any we’ve reached with the NFL, and we couldn’t be more energized about what the future holds.”

Due to the way that corporate America works they couldn’t just let it go at that–one of the ‘suits’ from Disney had to get a quote into the press release. In this case, we’ve got Disney chief executive officer Bob Chapek talking about how unique and special this TV deal is:

“This landmark agreement guarantees that ESPN’s passionate fan base will continue to have access to the best the NFL has to offer. Bringing all the considerable and unique capabilities of The Walt Disney Company and ESPN to the table opens up so many opportunities across our industry-leading direct-to-consumer, broadcast, cable, linear, social and digital outlets. Special thanks to Roger Goodell and the NFL owners for continuing to embrace new ways to appeal to their fans, especially through increasingly important platforms like ESPN+.”

The best news out of the TV deal? More Spongebob! Here’s how CBS Sportsline explained it:

The Nickelodeon game was a hit back in January and there will likely be a few more of those down the road. In the new contract, the NFL has given its network partners a greater ability to innovate around their productions and provide interactive elements. The league is also going to allow its partners to provide an “alternate presentation” of certain games, which opens the door for the networks to get creative like ViacomCBS did with the Nickelodeon game.

Y’all know where this ‘alternate presentation’ is heading don’t you? That’s right–an ‘alternate presentation’ tailored to sports betting and fantasy sports.

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