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The United States is in the throes of a revolution wrought by faceless young men, some of them with Afros and long hair, who throw bombs—the NFL players now performing on Monday night television. Without question, the Monday games on ABC, already dubbed "the Mondays" by alert gamblers who have made a bundle, have affected a variety of human endeavors from drinking habits to movie attendance. Anytime 35 million people suddenly start spending three hours of a hitherto normal weekday evening watching a pro football game on TV, they are bound to significantly influence mass culture, business trends and possibly the birthrate.
Variety, the voice of show biz, reports that Monday, traditionally the worst night for movie attendance, has become a disaster as a result of the TV game. Some theater owners are even thinking of closing down for the night. Hardest struck of all are the houses featuring nudies, which attract male members of the middle class.
Restaurant and bar business may be off as much as 25%. For example, Herb Rushing, who operates Sizzler Family Steakhouses in Manhattan Beach and Montclair, Calif., says, "Monday's the worst night of the week, period. It's been terrible the past few months but since the NFL telecasts began it's atrocious."
The staff of Overlake Hospital in Seattle has suggested that no babies be born between 7 and 10 on Monday evenings. When Mrs. Joel Schroedel, the wife of a photographer, in labor since 3 p.m., gave birth to a boy at 6:52 p.m. one Monday, there were cheers from the delivery room.
Dick Benson, a grade-school teacher in Milwaukee, did not believe the Nielsen rating that gave the Mondays a third of the total national TV audience. The morning after the Detroit Lions-Chicago Bears Monday evening game he polled his class and discovered that sets had been turned on to the game in 29 of 31 homes.
A Nixon supporter in Kansas City who had been urging his friends to go to the President's speech there last Monday night was asked how he liked it. "I didn't go," he said. "Did you think I was going to miss that Oakland-Washington game?"
In Long Beach, Calif. a fan built a $3,000 den in his garage so he could watch the Mondays in seclusion. "I would have been happy to have spent $6,000," says the fan, who, fittingly, has the All-Pro name of Darrell Otto.
Dr. Ernest Dichter, the big daddy of motivational research, says viewing interest in the Mondays may indicate Americans "are getting back to clean competitiveness. People are growing sick of nudies and violence. Pro football is the Lawrence Welk kind of thing. It might be compared to the success of the bestseller Love Story—a return to sentimental romanticism. Football is law and order in playful fashion. There are rules, and they are being obeyed. The good guys are rewarded and the offenders penalized. People are watching fair play. The coaches shake hands afterward. On another level football replaces the discussion show, and there maybe lessons here for the media. Football is sort of a three-dimensional Susskind show, with measurable results. You see these discussion shows and you know just as much at the end as you did in the beginning. You don't know if Women's Lib beat the Black Panthers. But with football you know one team won, six to nothing, period."
As is always the case with any revolution, the Mondays are devouring their own. Much as Robespierre went to the guillotine and Marat bled to death in the tub, four of the five winning Monday teams have been liquidated on the following Sunday. This toll has given rise to the feeling that there is a definite Monday hex (see cover), and has resulted in a bonanza for shrewd bettors, whose only concern is to beat the point spread set by the bookies. If you had bet against both Monday teams on the following Sunday, you would have won seven out of 10 bets! This came as a surprise, even a shock, to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, usually billed by advance men as the finger-snapping Original Mr. With-It. Rozelle's bag maybe ratings, major markets, demographics and the Sherman Antitrust Act, but when it comes to the points and the Mondays some gamblers were a calendar year ahead of the supposedly sophis commish. Says one proud bettor, "I think I got on to this before anyone else. When Dallas played the Giants on a Monday last year on CBS, I thought both teams would be off form the next Sunday. Cleveland clobbered Dallas 42-10, and the rotten, rock-bottom Eagles beat the Giants 23-20. I won a bundle."
The first public personage to take note of this potentially profitable probability was not, despite the alliteration, Spiro Agnew, but a landsman, Jimmie (the Greek) Snyder, the Las Vegas oracle who airmails his weekly Sports Newsletter ("...offered as a matter of news, information and entertainment and must not be construed as an invitation to violate any laws") to more than 300 newspapers and football freaks. According to the Greek, any Monday that plays the next Sunday is automatically minus at least three points. "Monday is a field goal," he says, sounding like a line out of Peanuts. Indeed, Monday has been such a warm blanket to the Greek that he even managed to pick the San Diego Chargers over the Bears. The Chargers were the first Monday to beat the spread. The Greek has stumbled more than once, but to quote from his Newsletter of Oct. 14: "The Chicago Bears are rated a 3 point favorite [by the bookmakers] over the San Diego Chargers. Chargers would have been rated at 2 by the Greek had they not played on Monday night. The Greek's rating: even."