Can’t you just see Shaun Alexander making the first big run of his NFL career in front of 60,000 screaming fans and a national television audience? Or Shawn Springs celebrating another breakout Monday performance under the lights of Husky Stadium?
The NFL schedule makers can’t. Literally, they can’t.
Part of the agreement that allows the Seahawks to play at Husky Stadium over the next two years comes with a stipulation that there will be no home games on Monday Night Football. That means Monday’s contest at Kansas City is the closest the Seahawks will get to hosting a MNF game until 2002.
“It’s an exciting atmosphere for a game and it’s just an absolute shame that we couldn’t get one over here,” Seahawks coach and general manager Mike Holmgren said this week. “I’m sorry I couldn’t have been part of that negotiation, but they didn’t involve me.”
The decision was made by the neighbors surrounding Husky Stadium, whose motive appears to be based on the noise and traffic gamedays cause. An organization called the University Neighborhood Service Center didn’t return phone calls, leaving us to speculate why Monday Night Football and beer sales were the main exclusions in bringing professional football to the U-District.
Whatever the reason, Al Michaels, Dennis Miller and Dan Fouts have been banished from the Pacific Northwest until a downtown stadium is completed in two years.
In past seasons, if the Seahawks had faxed the NFL their list of schedule requests with “No Monday games” printed among any other conflicts, league officials might have laughed.
An AFC West title and Holmgren’s notoriety have actually made the Seahawks into a rather interesting team, so much so that they will appear on MNF for the second consecutive season after a seven-year hiatus. Problem is, Seattle can’t make those appearances at home.
“I only wish we were able to play Monday Night Football games at Husky Stadium,” Holmgren said. “That’s a shame that that didn’t work out that way, because it’s a huge advantage for the home team. Huge.”
Statistically, homefield advantage is not overwhelming in Monday night games (.580 winning percentage for home teams since 1990), but it is there. The Chiefs are 9-6 all-time in Monday night home games, while the Seahawks are 9-3.
Not staggering marks, but advantages nonetheless. And the kind of home advantage the Seahawks won’t get to see until 2002 – at the earliest.
Maybe a Monday night was the kind of thing needed to bring absent fans out to Husky Stadium, and possibly to give the Seahawks their sixth consecutive MNF win.
Oh, well. It’s been almost eight years since the last Monday night game in Seattle, so what’s another two?
Chiefs – QB Elvis Grbac has a 90.8 quarterback rating, which ranks fifth in the AFC. TE Tony Gonzalez, a Pro Bowler last season, leads Kansas City with 18 receptions. WR Sylvester Morris has been the top rookie receiver in the league, catching 14 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns. LB Donnie Edwards has stepped in for Derrick Thomas as the leader of the Chiefs’ defense.
Grbac is tied for the league lead with eight touchdown passes, a mark he did not hit until Week 7 of last season. A bolstered receiving game that now includes star rookie Sylvester Morris has carried the Chiefs to this point.
Most of Kansas City’s damage has been done through the use of big plays, while Seattle has contained opponents for the most part in that regard.
The Seahawks hope to open things up a little bit more on offense, so perhaps a big play of their own is in the cards.
But the name of the game in this series has always been turnovers. Kitna has taken care of the ball recently, while fumbles plagued the team last week. With the spotlight on and everyone watching, mistakes will take on a life of their own.
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