Patriots Nostalgia: The Game the Patriots Were Banned from MNF

I was just discussing this topic with some friends on the K.C. Chiefs SB Nation site, I believe I have just found a link to a clip for the beginning of the game where the Patriots were banned from MNF for almost two decades.

I am 99% positive this is the game, because it meets all of the criteria I can recall: MNF game, between the Patriots and Jets, in Foxboro, mid 70's, and Joe Namath was still the QB of the Jets. This game was at the old Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, obviously. Here is the link:

MNF: Jets @ Patriots, October 18, 1976

The story after the jump...

I like most of you, have been a Pats fan from birth, for the nearly 38 years I've been alive. Was born into it, whether fortunately or unfortunately, I suppose that depends on the particular era you're referring to (i.e Rod Rust/Dick MacPherson or Bill Parcells/Bill Belickick, for instance).

I've always lived about a half hour away from Foxboro. We never had season tickets, but my father, a salesman and sales broker in the Chestnut Hill area, always managed to get us tickets for some memorable games throughout the years. One such game I attended was the Mark Henderson Snow Plow Game in 1982. I was 9 years old at the time. I remember we had front row seats in the corner of the endzone closest to where the snow plow incident happened. Before the game, I remember being two feet away from the back of Steve Grogan, as they were doing pregame warmups, screaming at the back of his helmet, "GROGAN!!!" You know, little kids can scream loud, lol. He never turned around though.

Anyway, another such game, that I was too young to attend, was this game in 1976. I was 3 years old at the time. My father, my uncle, and a bunch of his work buddies went to this one that appeared on MNF.

I believe the Pats played an away game on MNF in 1986, the season after the Superbowl appearance vs. the Bears. However, they didn't play another MNF game, another away game, until Bill Parcells took over as head coach. He took over as head coach in 1993, and it wasn't until his second season as coach that they went to the playoffs. So, that second away game wouldn't have been until at least 1995.

The producers at MNF used the excuse that they wouldn't air a game in Foxboro because the Patriots played "in a high school stadium". And, for those who don't remember, not to mention most of the nation, that was a reasonable enough reason. However, there was at least one more MNF game in the old stadium, prior to the new one being built, perhaps after the 4th and final Parcells season, when the Patriots lost to the Packers in their second SB appearance.

Anyway, to the game...

The crowd at the 1976 MNF game hosting the NY Jets, was so drunk and disorderly, that several things happened. At one point in the game, when the Jets were starting at their own 20, the game had gone to a tv timeout, and a fan jumped out of the endzone bleechers, and took the field. He ran into the Jets hundle, and shook Joe Namath's hand. He then proceeded to pick up the football that the umpire had placed at the line of scrimmage, and started running the length of the field.

The crowd at this point, who had been watching the whole thing, started getting into it. They started cheering wildly as the guy was running down the field with the football, like he was a real player. At about midfield, the police were running down the field after him. The fans started cheering even louder. When he reached the endzone, he spiked the ball, and started doing a crazyleggs endzone celebration dance. The police caught up to him and in one swift move scooped him up and carried him off the field, into the endzone tunnel, and out of the stadium.

Also, at least one or more (drunken) fans, fell off the back concrete wall of the stadium, and died. People were getting hauled out of the stadium for fighting throughout the game at such frequency that the annoucers started commentating about a few of them.

Finally, at the end of the game, Howard Cosell was left screaming:

"These New England fans are ANIMALS!! They are ANIMALS!!!"

And that's how the Patriots lost MNF in Foxboro for almost two decades.

If you took the time to read this, I thank you.

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