Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 5:28 AM ET, 12/ 8/2010

How 'Monday Night Football' told world John Lennon had died

By Cindy Boren

Originally filed Dec. 6; updated Dec. 8, 5:33 a.m.

"We have got to say what we know in the booth."

News of the death of John Lennon 30 years ago today will always be inextricably linked to an NFL game, a "Monday Night Football" telecast on ABC and to the voices of Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford.

And yet the information that Dec. 8, 1980, night was almost not aired because broadcasters were divided about whether to tell viewers during a football game (as John Smith, the NFL's only Englishman and a Beatles fan, was attempting a field goal for the New England Patriots late in the game). ESPN's "Outside the Lines" has an audio clip of a brief in-game, off-camera conversation among Cosell, Gifford and ABC producers about just what they should do.

Cosell, who was not someone who suffered the opinions of former jocks gladly, differed with Gifford, who argued that Cosell had to broadcast the news. Gifford prevailed, saying: "If we know it, we've gotta do it. This is gonna shake up the whole world."

Cosell's task was made all the tougher because he had done a memorable interview with Lennon on "MNF" in 1974, one in which Lennon said that American football "makes rock concerts look like tea parties."

More, from "Outside the Lines" on the night the sports world covered the murder of Lennon by Marc Chapman:


Style: Death still hard to fathom

Photos: Lennon's legacy

Rolling Stone: Lennon's final interview, days before his death

More "MNF" news: Don Meredith dies

(Thanks to Dan Levy and David Alison.)

By Cindy Boren  | December 8, 2010; 5:28 AM ET
Categories:  NFL  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Redskins suspend Albert Haynesworth: Twitter reaction
Next: Pete Sampras robbed of tennis trophies, memorabilia


Some cool memories in there, even if they are a bit sad. Thanks Cindy!

Posted by: dalison | December 6, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Agree, David. What a night.

Posted by: CindyBoren | December 6, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I had just finished high school and was starting college at U-Md in College Park. Everyone was stunned. Of course, alot of people gathered for a vigil.

Posted by: rusty6 | December 8, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Rusty, so you were at MD when they still allowed kegs on campus. I heard MD was crazy wild in the early 80's.

Posted by: luvdc808 | December 8, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I can't remember a party in College Park that I've been to in the last dozen years that didn't have multiple kegs... Is that a rule for dorms only?

Posted by: alecw81 | December 8, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company