NFL

Why Are There 2 ‘Monday Night Football’ Games in Week 13?

While Mondays aren’t anyone’s favorite day of the week, things are a little less dreary for football fans. During the fall and winter, Monday Night Football is a beacon at the end of the workday; if you can survive the first shift back in the office, there’s some NFL action waiting for you. Week 13, however, will be even sweeter.

In a rare turn of events, there will be two Monday Night Football games at the tail end of Week 13. What’s really behind that unusual scheduling?

Monday Night Football is a fixture in the football world

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In the world of sports, certain phrases will always cut straight to the heart of most fans. One of those, for better or worse, is Monday Night Football.

Traditionally, football games have always fallen into discrete scheduling boxes. High school action takes place under ‘Friday night lights;’ College teams play on Saturday, and the pros wrap things up on Sundays. While there were some efforts to shake things up, nothing really changed until September 21, 1970.

On that fateful evening, Monday Night Football kicked off with a nationally televised broadcast of the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns. The game featured a three-man booth, instant replay, and plenty of pageantries; while those might seem standard today, they were novel inclusions at the time, and the audience was hooked.

In a time before hundreds of TV channels and 24-7 sports news, Monday Night Football became an event; whether you lived in New York or California, you’d be treated to the same, high-quality broadcast. While things have gotten a bit less special over the years, the Monday night slot still holds a special place in sporting lore.

Why are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Football Team playing on Monday Night Football?

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Under ordinary circumstances, there is one Monday Night Football game that kicks off in primetime. 2020, however, has been anything but ordinary. The Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced that reality firsthand.

On Thanksgiving, the Steelers and Ravens were supposed to play the nightcap; due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Baltimore facility, however, that game had to be postponed. It was slated for Sunday, then pushed to Tuesday, and finally kicked off on Wednesday afternoon to accommodate the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting.

While the Steelers were scheduled to host the Washington Football Team for a Sunday matchup in Week 13, that game had to be delayed; taking the field on Wednesday and then again on Sunday was simply too quick of a turnaround. Their meeting was then pushed to Monday night but, since it wasn’t the originally scheduled Monday Night Football game, had to slot in ahead of ESPN’s national broadcast.

The situation isn’t dissimilar to what happened in Week 6. After the Kansas City Chiefs-Tennessee Titans game had to be rescheduled, KC’s Thursday Night meeting with the Buffalo Bills was pushed to the early slot on Monday.

Week 13’s San Francisco 49ers-Buffalo Bills game won’t be completely normal, either

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When the schedule was drawn up, the San Francisco 49ers and the Buffalo Bills were slated to play Week 13’s Monday Night Football game. While they’ll still be taking the field for the primetime, national broadcast, things will still be a bit different.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Bay Area, the 49ers aren’t able to play in Levis Stadium at the moment. They’ll still be the home team on Monday night, at least in terms of uniforms, game presentation, and the league’s official records, but the game will be played in Arizona rather than California.

On the whole, 2020 has been anything but conventional. With one rescheduled game and another relocated matchup, Week 13’s Monday Night Football slate is also getting in on the act.