ESPN's Monday Night Football Season-Opening Doubleheader � Bills-Patriots and Chargers-Raiders on Sept. 14
Tom Brady's Return, Terrell Owens' Bills Debut to Highlight Kickoff of MNF's 40th Season
Monday Night Football will kick off its 40th season with two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady expected to make his highly-anticipated return to the field when the New England Patriots host wide receiver Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills in the first game of a nationally televised ESPN doubleheader on Monday, September 14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET, followed by the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders in a matchup of AFC West rivals at 10:15 p.m.
The Patriots finished with an 11-5 record in 2008 despite losing Brady to a season-ending knee injury in their opening game. In 2007, Brady was named the NFL MVP after leading the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular season record and a Super Bowl appearance. The AFC East rival Bills will make their season debut with a revamped offense featuring Owens, the dynamic All Pro wide receiver who signed as a free agent earlier this month. ESPN's MNF commentator team of Mike Tirico (play-by-play) and analysts Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser will call the game.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson will lead the Chargers against the Raiders in Oakland in the second game. San Diego won the AFC West a year ago and advanced to the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. The Chargers and Raiders also played in ESPN's inaugural season-opening MNF doubleheader in 2006. The ESPN commentators who will call the game will be announced later this offseason.
The MNF doubleheader will be part of the NFL's celebration of the 50th anniversary season of the AFL. All four teams in the opening weekend ESPN games originally began playing in the inaugural 1960 American Football League season.
ESPN Deportes, ESPN's 24-hour Spanish-language domestic sports network, will continue to offer a Spanish-language production of MNF games during the 2009 NFL season. Remaining games on ESPN's 17-game Monday Night Football regular-season schedule are expected to be announced in April. All MNF game telecasts will start at 8:30 p.m.
ESPN'S MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
ESPN's Monday Night Football is the most-watched series in cable television history and the only NFL series nominated for a Sports Emmy in the Outstanding Live Sports Series category in both 2006 and 2007. In three seasons on ESPN, Monday Night Football has registered seven of the top 10 all-time biggest household audiences in cable history, led by the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys telecast (9/15/08), which attracted cable's largest household audience ever (an average of 12,953,000 million homes and 18,608,000 P2+). For the 2008 season, ESPN's MNF delivered the three biggest household audiences -- and 13 of the top 15 -- for cable television in 2008, averaging an 8.9 rating and 8,679,000 homes (11,962,000 P2+). The accompanying �Monday Night Surround� content on ESPN.com sparked an increase of Monday traffic to the site of 51% over the previous season with an average 68.1 million page views per week.