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Is Monday Night Still A Magical Time?

Maybe times really have changed. Maybe way back when there was so much hoopla surrounding a Monday night game that it was a really big deal when your team was selected to play then. Maybe I'm just jaded now, used to the invitations the Eagles have gotten over the years. Playing on Monday night is still great, still a spotlight and very much an honor.

But does it mean as much as it used to mean?

I need some perspective. So I'm in the Eagles locker room on Saturday and I see defensive tackle Trevor Laws packing up his things. He's a rookie, a mature kid and all of that, but still a rookie. I want to know if Monday Night Football is something special for Laws.

"Oh, yeah," he said. "I can't wait. I'm really excited about it. I watched Monday night when I was a kid. Growing up, it was always something I dreamed of doing. So to be in this position is special to me."

I totally understand that. Laws is a rookie. All of his buddies from home and from college are going to watch and they're going to hear his name on national television and they're going to beam with pride. But what is it like for a player in his 10th NFL season? Wouldn't this be old hat for Donovan McNabb? Playing on Monday night has to be run of the mill by now ...

"It is the one day when, if you are playing, that you are the only game, and that makes it special," said McNabb. "Everybody in the league is watching. Your friends are watching. Your family is watching.

"I love playing on Monday night. It's a different atmosphere. Everybody is tuned in."

Maybe I need to think about this a little bit longer, then. Maybe I should wander out to the parking lot on Monday night at Texas Stadium, find some Eagles fans and get some attitude adjustment. Maybe I need to stand on the sideline and soak up the intensity and the pageantry and remember what it was like to have that rare occasion when playing on Monday night meant a team was being recognized as something special.

There are just so many games on so many days of the week -- the Eagles play on Thursday night and on Sunday night this season, in addition to more Monday night games, and they have played on Saturday nights in past season. It is hard to keep track of when the games are played. Mondays blend into Thursdays and into Sundays and, well, you get idea.

I think need a reminder of what Monday night means, and lo and behold here comes Ron Jaworski to practice one day and we're standing on the sidelines like old chums talking about this and that and everything football and he starts to wax philosophic about Monday night magic.

"There's nothing like it, even now," said Jaworski, who, understand, is the color analyst in his second season for Monday Night Football. "There is a reason it draws the attention it gets. When you're a kid, you watch and then to be in a position to play, it's a different feeling than any other regular season game. You're the only game in town."

The Eagles pack up on Sunday afternoon and head to Dallas for a game that everyone has hyped to the max this week. I'm all for that, because this is one of those fun, early-season games against a division rival that doesn't come along too often in Week 2. Both teams won big last week. Both teams are given a lot of love from the national experts.

And I know that when I'm on the plane and the wheels lift off and the team is enclosed and in the air, then it will hit me and I will jolt back to reality. Maybe what I've felt all week, now that I'm starting to feel some clarity returning, is the sheer anticipation of waiting all week. It has been too long between games. Doesn't it feel like the Eagles haven't played in forever?

I stand corrected, then. Monday Night Football is a special moment for everyone -- you as you're watching on television or at the game and me for experiencing the spectacle of the game and, I understand a little bit better, for the players who enjoy the showcase.

It is the only game in town and, indeed, the league. It still means something to the players -- a lot, in fact. That the Dallas Cowboys are on the other sideline on Monday makes it that much more special for all of us. In the end, sometimes it takes a slap in the face to get right. I'm right, now.

Now that we're here, on the verge, I can't wait. But I admit that it has been an unbelievably long week, that the wait has been excruciating to this point.

Monday night, it's Eagles and Cowboys and we are all blessed to be part of the show of shows.

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