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Are you ready for some...cable?

By Jeffery Armstrong

Okay, now I am really upset. I know all of you faithful readers of my column knew that I would definitely have to spout off about the situation that happened two days ago.

You know, when the National Football League decided to pop me on my backside like I was a troublesome child who just knocked over the precious family heirloom in the house. The NFL renewed its television football package for the next seven to eight years and they have made the move to take Monday Night Football off ABC-TV and put it on ESPN, the cable television network, for the next eight years starting in 2006. ESPN! This means that one has to have cable television to watch one of the best over-the-air programs ever created.

That's an outrage, especially since I don't have cable anymore (in an effort to save money). But even if I did have cable, I still would be ticked about this recent news.

Monday Night Football has been an institution. Since the year 1970, MNF has been a staple of American life and I can remember looking forward to Monday nights for at least the last 28 years. I mean, Monday nights in the fall and winter mean checking out possibly the best games of the extended weekend and hearing some of the best announcers ever. I mean, there's been Howard Cosell, "Dandy" Don Meredith, Frank Gifford, Dan Dierdorf, Dan Fouts, Al Michaels, John Madden and there even was the Dennis Miller experience. You could watch the Monday night football games and listen to some great announcers all for just paying your electricity bill each and every month. That was the beauty of the Monday Night Football experience.

Now I, and several of the other squares who don't have cable, will actually have to venture to a buddy's house with cable or - gasp - a sports bar just to watch Monday Night Football, which just doesn't seem right, no matter how much money it makes or how well the ratings increase. Monday Night Football on cable is just unnatural. What's next - the sun rising in the west and setting in the east? NBA players actually caring about the game enough to play it the right way? The World Series featuring the Milwaukee Brewers against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? The Atlanta Braves getting out of the first round of the playoffs? And what's even worse is that Michaels and Madden might not be the announcing team for the new Monday night football games.

Now despite all of my squawking, there is a silver lining to this dark cloud. NBC-TV will have the NFL again and it will broadcast games on Sunday nights from 2006-2011, which is a very good thing. So there's a possibility that on some Sundays, an NFL junkie like me will be able to watch as many as four football games depending on whether the Atlanta Falcons are playing on the road. That, however, is a small consolation for not being able to watch Monday Night Football in a cable-free environment. I guess I better keep a night job for the next eight years with cable TV in the office so I can be ready for some football with all my rowdy friends on Monday night.

Jeffery Armstrong is a sports writer for the Daily and his column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at jarmstrong@news-daily.com .