Although there had been occasional special matches played on a Monday night before 1970, it was not until that season of NFL play that they became a regular feature of the game. The first Monday Night Football game was played between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns, at Cleveland Stadium.
The Browns defeated the Jets 31-21, and all the action was relayed to the loungerooms of America by the commentary team of Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson and DOn Meredith. The experiement was a roaring success – even movie and bowling alley attendances dropped on Monday nights as Americans stayed home to watch the games. Monday Night Football has been a regular feature of the game ever since, about to enter its 44th season.
It seems like such a cliché today, but 112 years ago, Francis Pharcellus Church, an editor of the New York Sun newspaper, was the first person ever to write that sentence, in an editorial entitled Is There a Santa Claus?
Church wrote the editorial, which featured that famous line, in response to a letter written by an eight year old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon. The editorial is written in the fine rhetorical style of the late 19th century, and as much as H.L. Mencken probably despised its sentimentality (one can almost hear him saying “Bah! Humbug!” upon reading it), he was in the minority.
Not only is it the most famous thing that Church ever wrote (or that the Sun ever printed), but it is also the most commonly reprinted newspaper editorial in the English language. Not a bad response for a little girl’s letter.