The past few years, we’ve been blessed with two opening night Monday Games by ESPN, and this year will be no different. Not only are they giving us two great games this year, but in the first game, they’ve set themselves up with quite possibly two of the most polarizing characters in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills, and newly acquired Terrell Owens will be heading to New England, to take on the Patriots, in Tom Brady’s first game back from the knee injury that sidelined him all of last season.
Monday Night Football will kick off its 40th season with two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady expected to make his highly-anticipated return to the field when the New England Patriots host wide receiver Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills in the first game of a nationally televised ESPN doubleheader on Monday, September 14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET, followed by the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders in a matchup of AFC West rivals at 10:15 p.m.
The Patriots finished with an 11-5 record in 2008 despite losing Brady to a season-ending knee injury in their opening game. In 2007, Brady was named the NFL MVP after leading the Patriots to a perfect 16-0 regular season record and a Super Bowl appearance. The AFC East rival Bills will make their season debut with a revamped offense featuring Owens, the dynamic All Pro wide receiver who signed as a free agent earlier this month. ESPN’s MNF commentator team of Mike Tirico (play-by-play) and analysts Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser will call the game.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson will lead the Chargers against the Raiders in Oakland in the second game. San Diego won the AFC West a year ago and advanced to the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs. The Chargers and Raiders also played in ESPN’s inaugural season-opening MNF doubleheader in 2006. The ESPN commentators who will call the game will be announced later this offseason.
The Bills-Patriots is obviously a good matchup, but the Raiders? I know it’s tough to find a West Coast game during the first week of the season, but there has to be something better than that one. Either way, it should be a good opening Monday Night, and this release also signifies a few other things. First, that the Cowboys “New Stadium Game” will end up as the first game of the Sunday Night season on NBC (Titans-Steelers are rumored to be the Thursday Night Opener), and second, that Mike, Mike and Mike, won’t be calling the second game.
Update: Here is your full Kickoff Weekend schedule, plus the Thanksgiving Day action, via the NFL….
Thursday, September 24th- Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC, 8:30pm)
Sunday, September 25th- Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (NBC, 8:30pm)
Monday, September 26th- Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (ESPN, 7pm)/San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (ESPN, 10:30pm)
Thursday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Day)- Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (FOX, 12:30pm)/Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (CBS, 4:15pm)/New York Giants at Denver Broncos (NFL-N, 8:20pm)