ESPN Sunday Night Football

ESPN Sunday Night Football was the ESPN cable network's weekly television broadcasts of Sunday evening National Football League (NFL) games. The first ESPN Sunday night broadcast occurred on November 8, 1987, while the last one aired on January 1, 2006.

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue credits ESPN with raising the "profile" of the league, by turning "a potential six- or seven-hour television experience into a twelve-hour television experience," factoring in both Sunday Night Football and the network's pregame show Sunday NFL Countdown.

ESPN Sunday Night Football
Also known asESPN Sunday Night NFL
StarringMike Patrick
Joe Theismann
Paul Maguire
Suzy Kolber
see below
Country of originUnited States
Running time180 minutes
Original networkESPN
Original releaseNovember 8, 1987 –
January 1, 2006


While ABC had been airing occasional Sunday night NFL games (usually one per season) under its Monday Night Football banner since 1978, the concept of playing a regular series of Sunday night professional football games on ESPN was originally a concept designed for the United States Football League. As part of the abortive 1986 USFL season, ESPN was to carry a weekly Sunday night game throughout the fall season.[1]

As part of its new television package in 1987, the NFL granted ESPN the rights to air a series of Sunday night games, which were to air over the second half of the regular season. The NFL thus became the last major North American professional sports league to begin airing its games on cable television.[2]

During the inaugural season of ESPN Sunday Night NFL (as the telecast was then branded) in 1987, the network's announcing booth consisted of Mike Patrick, Roy Firestone, and a weekly "guest color commentator". Joe Theismann took over as lead analyst beginning in 1988. Two years later, the NFL expanded its Sunday night offerings to the full season, with TNT airing games in the season's first half and ESPN taking over for the second half.

ESPN's games were typically simulcast on regular over-the-air television stations in each participating team's local market so that households without cable television could still see the telecasts. During the first season, the game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots (the very first regular season game aired by ESPN) saw WABC-TV[3] (ABC's flagship station out of New York City) produce a completely separate telecast from ESPN's. The reason behind this was that WABC's union contract at the time prohibited non-union workers, such as those at ESPN, from producing live events for WABC. The WABC broadcasts involved play-by-play man Corey McPherrin and Frank Gifford and Lynn Swann on color commentary.

Beginning in 1998, ESPN broadcast the entire slate of Sunday night games (now officially rebranded as ESPN Sunday Night Football), and had exclusive rights to any night game other than the season opener and regular Monday night games, which aired on ABC. Thus, ESPN would usually have a few weekends each season with games on both Saturday (sometimes Thursday instead) and Sunday nights. Also in 1998, Paul Maguire joined Patrick and Theismann in the booth after re-joining ESPN after several years as a color commentator for NBC. Beginning in 1999, Suzy Kolber, who had recently rejoined ESPN from Fox Sports, served as the sideline reporter; Kolber replaced Solomon Wilcots, who joined CBS as a color commentator. In 2002, ESPN's SNF crew covered the new Thursday, opening night kickoff game. In 2004, Pat Summerall replaced Patrick for the preseason and for several regular season weeks following Patrick's recovery from open-heart surgery.

After the 2005 season, ESPN ended this package in favor of picking up the broadcast rights to Monday Night Football from ABC. NBC picked up the rights to ESPN's Sunday night games. To replace Sunday Night Football ESPN moved its late-season Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts back to the network and replaced most of the rest of the open weeks with NBA telecasts.


From 19871997, ESPN used various themes for its NFL coverage, reflecting its separate management from sister company ABC Sports (now ESPN on ABC since September 2006) at the time.

In 1998, as Disney began consolidating ESPN and ABC Sports, ESPN's NFL coverage began using themes associated with Monday Night Football such as "Heavy Action". In-game use of these themes ended after 2000, in favor of another original theme also referred to as "Sirens" (for featuring sirens prominently).

When ESPN gained the Monday night games, they once again began using the traditional Monday Night Football themes, but with increased frequency. See Monday Night Football for more info on music used during that package.

Significant games

Joe Namath incident

During a game between the New England Patriots at New York Jets on December 20, 2003, former Jets quarterback Joe Namath in a sideline interview with Suzy Kolber twice stated that he wanted to kiss her, and "couldn't care less about the team strugg-a-ling." Namath later apologized and blamed the incident on his obvious intoxication. Soon after, Namath entered an outpatient alcoholism treatment program. Namath chronicled the episode, including his battle with alcoholism in his book, Namath (ISBN 0-67003-329-4).


NOTE: Pat Summerall filled in for Mike Patrick who was recovering from heart bypass surgery.

Guest commentators (1987 only)


  1. ^ ESPN, minus USFL, has 66 hours to fill. Associated Press via St. Petersburg Times (August 5, 1986). Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  2. ^ Pierson, Don (March 16, 1987). "Nfl Finally Opens The Door To Cable". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  3. ^ TV Sports; Marathon Mystery Unseen Winner
  4. ^ a b [1]
Preceded by
(occasional Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday night games)
NFL Sunday night broadcaster
(with TNT from 19901997)
Succeeded by
2001 NFL season

The 2001 NFL season was the 82nd regular season of the National Football League (NFL). In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the NFL's week 2 games (September 16 and 17) were postponed and rescheduled to the weekend of January 6 and 7. In order to retain the full playoff format, all playoff games, including Super Bowl XXXVI, were rescheduled one week later. The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, defeating the St. Louis Rams 20–17 at the Louisiana Superdome.

26th Sports Emmy Awards

The 26th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2004 were presented on May 2, 2005 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 9.

27th Sports Emmy Awards

The 27th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2005 were presented on May 1, 2006 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 29.

28th Sports Emmy Awards

The 28th Sports Emmy Awards honoring American sports coverage in 2006 were presented on April 30, 2007 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City. The nominees were announced on March 22.

CBC Sports

CBC Sports is the division of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation responsible for English-language sports broadcasting. The CBC's sports programming primarily airs on CBC Television,, and CBC Radio One. (The CBC's French-language Radio-Canada network also produces sports programming.)

Once the country's dominant sports broadcaster, in recent years it has lost many of its past signature properties – such as the Canadian Football League, Toronto Blue Jays baseball, Canadian Curling Association championships, the Olympic Games for a period, the FIFA World Cup, and the National Hockey League – to the cable specialty channels TSN and Sportsnet. As of 2015, CBC's sports coverage is now largely restricted to Olympic sports and the Olympics proper, other amateur events, as well as the Calgary Stampede and show jumping from Spruce Meadows. CBC has maintained partial rights to the NHL as part of a sub-licensing agreement with current rightsholder Rogers Communications (maintaining the Saturday-night Hockey Night in Canada and playoff coverage), although this coverage is produced by Sportsnet, as opposed to the CBC itself as was the case in the past. The majority of CBC's sports coverage is broadcast by CBC Television on weekends under the blanket title Road to the Olympic Games (formerly CBC's Wide World Of Sports).On August 20, 2008, the CBC received approval from the CRTC to create an all-sports category 2 digital TV channel, tentatively known as CBC SportsPlus. Although apparently intended to start in 2009, its launch has since been put on hold indefinitely. As a result of funding reductions from the federal government and decreased revenues, in April 2014 CBC announced it would no longer bid for professional sport broadcasting rights.Former Curling Canada CEO Greg Stremlaw has been the head of CBC Sports since April 10, 2015.

Corey McPherrin

Corey B. McPherrin (born March 10, 1955), known professionally as Corey McPherrin, is the morning news anchor for WFLD-TV in Chicago.

ESPN Sunday Night Football results

This is a list of results of National Football League games played on ESPN Sunday Night Football. In 1987, the NFL began regularly scheduling games for Sunday nights to be aired on ESPN during the second half of the season. The league expanded these games to the entire season in 1990, though the first half of the season was televised on TNT, while ESPN continued to carry the second half. In 1998, ESPN took over the entire season's slate of games. The network also aired occasional Thursday and Saturday night games when they were scheduled (some of these games were either to avoid conflicts with the World Series, or because Sunday was Christmas Eve).

ESPN Sunday Night NFL

ESPN Sunday Night NFL is a sports video game that was released for the Super NES, Sega CD, and Sega Genesis in 1994.

Enhanced TV

Enhanced TV was a blanket branding for interactive second screen experiences offered by selected ABC and ESPN television programs. Programs under the banner offered live interactivity through the ABC or ESPN website—including such as trivia questions, live statistics and play prediction games during sports broadcasts, and other features. The service was first introduced on college football in 1998 with PrimeTime Player, and was also used as part of other programs, such as Monday Night Football and ESPN Sunday Night Football, the Academy Awards, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

History of the National Football League on television

The history of the National Football League on television documents the long history of the National Football League on television. The NFL, along with boxing and professional wrestling (before the latter publicly became known as a "fake" sport), was a pioneer of sports broadcasting during a time when baseball and college football were more popular than professional football. Due to the NFL understanding television at an earlier time, they were able to surpass Major League Baseball in the 1960s as the most popular sport in the United States. Today, NFL broadcasting contracts are among the most valuable in the world.

List of longest-running U.S. cable television series

This is a list of the longest running United States cable television series, ordered by number of broadcast seasons.

To qualify for this list, the programming must originate in North America and shown nationally in the United States and be first-run (as opposed to a repackaging of previously aired material or material released in other media). For the purposes of this list, series that were available only on a local or regional basis will be excluded. For series that originated on U.S. broadcast networks (or broadcast syndication) and then was picked up by a national cable network, only the amount aired nationally on cable as original programming is represented here.

List of longest-running U.S. primetime television series

This is a list of the longest running U.S. primetime television series, ordered by the number of broadcast seasons offered by a U.S. broadcast network or cable network in prime time on the show's original run. Broadcast syndication that could have been scheduled by local stations in prime time have been omitted.

Outstanding Live Sports Series

The Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Sports Series has been awarded since 1976. Unlike the award for Outstanding Live Sports Special, this award is given to networks for a weekly series in which a specific sport is televised live.

Shaun Alexander

Shaun Edward Alexander (born August 30, 1977) is a former American football running back who played for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Alabama, and was drafted by the Seahawks 19th overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. In May 2011, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Alexander set numerous NFL and Seattle Seahawks' franchise records, and was named the NFL MVP in 2005. He was also named to the NFL's 2000 All-Decade team.

Sports Emmy Award

The Sports Emmy Awards are presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) in recognition of excellence in American sports television programming, including sports-related series, live coverage of sporting events, and best sports announcers. The awards ceremony, presenting Emmys from the previous calendar year, is usually held on a Spring Monday night, sometime in the last two weeks in April or the first week in May. The Sports Emmy Awards are all given away at one ceremony, unlike the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Daytime Emmy Awards, which hold a "Creative Arts" ceremony in which Emmys are given to behind-the-scenes personnel.

Sports broadcasting contracts in New Zealand

This article refers to sports broadcasting contracts in New Zealand. For a list of other country's broadcasting rights, see Sports television broadcast contracts.

Sunday Night Football

Sunday Night Football may refer to:

ESPN Sunday Night Football, the Sunday night broadcast of American NFL games from 1987–2005 by ESPN

NBC Sunday Night Football, the Sunday night broadcast of American NFL games by NBC since 2006

NFL on TNT, the Sunday night broadcast of American NFL games from 1990–1997 by TNT

Sunday Night Football radio coverage on Westwood One

Sunday Night Football (Australian TV program), an Australian football sports broadcast television program that aired on the Seven Network from 1991–2000 and again in 2014

Sunday Night Football (UK TV programme), also known as European Football Show, a British football-dedicated programme on BT Sport

Sunday Night Football results

Sunday Night Football results may refer to:

ESPN Sunday Night Football results

NBC Sunday Night Football results

U.S. networks
Co-owned Canadian
sports networks
Defunct ventures
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Notable personalities
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Lore televised by ABC
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Results and standings
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