By Rob Todor
The ESPN broadcaster spoke about the first Monday Night game between the Browns and Jets — in 1970.
WOODMERE — Ron Jaworski remembers where he watched the first Monday Night Football game way back in 1970.
“In my dorm room at Kilcawley Hall,” said the 16-year NFL quarterback and Youngstown State University graduate.
“There was about dozen people in that little room — we even slid in an extra bunk bed so guys could sit and watch — and because I had a TV they all came to my room.”
Jaworski, who called Monday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants for ESPN, said his interest in that first game — played between the Browns and the New York Jets — was piqued for several reasons.
“It was [Jets quarterback] Joe Namath and as a kid growing up in Buffalo I was an old American Football League fan,” he said. “It was Broadway Joe, it was pretty special.
“And it was the Browns, so it was the feeling like it was a local team.”
The Browns won that first game, 31-21, and started a series that has lasted for 39 years and annually attracts the largest viewing audiences.
“It’s football; the product itself is so good,” said Jaworski of the show’s success. He took part in Chalk Talk, a luncheon series presented by ESPN that precedes the game each week during the season. Monday’s event was held at Mitchell’s Fish Market in this Cleveland suburb.
“I’d like to think maybe we [ESPN] have done something for it but I’m not that naive.
“The players are so excited for Monday Night Football and that’s what motivates us.”
Jaworski, of course, played in several Monday night games with the Eagles and Rams. His favorite memory came from getting a mention by legendary commentator Howard Cosell.
“I’m always cognizant that I’m talking about guys; they hear things [from] family and people that watch [about] how we did in the telecast,” he said.
“Howard Cosell was doing the game and I was with the Los Angeles Rams. He said, ‘That Jaworski looks like a young Joe Namath,’ and I was like, ‘Wow, Howard Cosell actually compared me to Joe Namath!’
“So I’m always thinking that when I’m talking about a guy he’s going to hear what I said about him. Hopefully for the most part it’s positive, but there are times when the guy’s not playing well you have to be objective. I remember hearing the good things so I try to be as positive as I can.”
Jaworski was happy that the game wasn’t being played in old Municipal Stadium.
“There was a nail [in the locker room] where we hung our clothes. We used to look for the tape with our name on it and there was a big nail underneath it.
“And the field … it was dirt spray painted green.”