Since it’s debut in 1970 on ABC, Monday Night Football has been a storied franchise. With nearly forty years of TV ratings success, that would be inevitable. Week after week, the nation tunes in to watch the NFL in it’s most deluxe packaging–extra cameras, ever more innovative graphics, and a palpably higher level of excitement that only a two team national telecast spotlight can provide.
Tonight, the Green Bay Packers visit the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field. But that’s not the story. The story is Brett Favre vs. the Green Bay Packers. People want to watch the perennial-retiree face the team he lead for sixteen seasons and by extension, the state that welcomed him deep into their hearts. Green Bay and Favre were a storybook relationship that ended with feelings of betrayal and recrimination. And it’s an awkward situation made worse because Favre ended up with Minnesota; these are two northern states with a deep-seated professional antitpathy. Tonight’s game has so much interest, officials pushed back the Tigers-Twins one game baseball playoff game at the Metrodome til Tuesday.
I like the NFL, but I’m much more of a Saturday football fan. Still, like every other person on the planet, I can’t resist a good story. And tonight’s game features a terrific one, one that I’ll still care about even after every analyst and promo spot hammers it into overkill. Stories matter, and the NFL brand seems to have an intuitive sense of that.