The longest running team sports programming in American sport and/or television history is Monday Night Football.
The Broncos once earlier played the late game on MNF to open the season, a game at Oakland in 2008.
But for Broncos fans this will be the first time Denver ever has opened the season with the “late” Monday night game at home, kickoff slated for approximately 8:20 p.m. Mountain Time. That means East Coast football fans will be watching the great Broncos-Raiders rivalry starting at 10:20.
Mile High City fans now recognize Monday Night Football as a commonplace occurrence on the Broncos’ annual schedule—this is Denver’s 20th straight year on MNF, and that is the longest current streak in the National Football League.
The Raiders hold the all-time longest streak of consecutive years on Monday night, from 1970-’97, while Denver’s active streak began in 1992 and continues through this season.
The next three franchises with the longest MNF streaks are Dallas, Green Bay and Miami, each of which at one time had runs of 19 consecutive years playing in the prime game on Monday night.
There is some irony in the fact that the Broncos have the second longest streak ever, and the longest active streak at this time, in that once upon a time local fans wondered if Denver would EVER make a Monday night appearance.
In fact, the weekly halftime highlights package on the Monday night telecast regularly excluded the Broncos in the pre-1973 period, with the excuse being that Denver was so far away that the film could not get back to New York in time.
Of course, that excuse was ridiculous, with the greater likelihood—since admitted to by some of the original game producers—being good old East Coast bias, benefitting teams that play in the Eastern Time Zone and punishing the one team in the Rocky Mountain Time Zone.
But 1973 was a breakthrough year for the Broncos, not only with a 23-23 tie against Oakland on Monday Night Football, but the 1973 campaign generated the first winning season ever in Broncos’ history. Up until that point of time, the Monday Night Football game with the Raiders was witnessed by the largest television audience ever to have seen a live TV sports event from Denver, so that game was historic not only for the Broncos but for the Mile High City.
Since then, of course, NFL history has been written over and over, and the Denver Broncos have authored many of the chapters.
Looking at the big picture, from the 1970 NFL/AFL merger until the present, the Broncos rank third in Super Bowl berths with six, sixth in number of winning seasons with 24, fifth in overall wins with 376 as well as fifth in regular season wins with 359, and Denver has played in eight conference championship games, tied with Minnesota for sixth most in the NFL.
At home, only Pittsburgh (227) has more wins from 1970-2011 than Denver’s 218, and the Broncos are the only non-expansion team in history to have sold out every home game it has ever played as members of the National Football League (the expansion Houston Texans have sold out all their games thus far, but are still in their first decade of play).
Adding the team’s success to majestic sunsets and mountain vistas have made Denver a prime television attraction in the NFL—along with the occasional snowfall to add drama and color, of course.
Denver has an overall MNF record of 27-34-1 and a home mark of 20-10-1, so the Broncos’ home victory percentage on Monday Night Football is an exemplary .667.
The Broncos have come a long way from being the team in the Rockies that never had a winning record and was “too far” from New York to get game highlights shown on the weekly Monday telecast.
Now, the Monday night schedule would not be the same without the Broncos on it at some point, as attested to by this Monday’s game marking two full decades of consecutive years with Denver being featured on the greatest primetime sports series in American history.