IRVING, TX - When the Cowboys were designing their new stadium several years ago, it was important to pay homage to their old home, Texas Stadium, in a number of ways.
There were things the club felt it could improve on in moving to the 21st century, but one thing they knew they had to keep - at least the option of having the hole in the roof. Jerry Jones was always particularly fond of the view from the blimp on a Monday night game, when the brightness of the stadium projected up into the night and lit up the sky.
That's one of countless ways Monday Night Football has affected the Cowboys over the past 40 years. Some of the team's most memorable wins and heartbreaking losses have come on Monday night as well.
Though the NFL moved the weekend's premiere matchup to Sunday night in the latest television deal, Monday night still remains special, especially to the players.
"The whole world is watching," Roy Williams, who is just now preparing for his first Monday-nighter, said. "Monday night everybody gets off of work, they're kicking their shoes up and watching football, and there's no better team to watch than the Dallas Cowboys. So the whole world's going to be watching, so hopefully we can put on a show."
And indeed the Cowboys have over these last four decades. Their 70 appearances on Monday is more than all but the Miami Dolphins, who have 74, and the Cowboys have won the most of any team, with 41.
The Cowboys have played at least one game on Monday Night Football in 36 of the past 39 seasons. The upcoming contest against Carolina will mark the Cowboys' 32nd home Monday-nighter over the years, the team compiling an 18-13 record in primetime weekday affairs at Texas Stadium. Like the Cowboys stadium opener last week, the Cowboys should be giving maximum efforts under the bright lights.
"I think Monday nights usually you get your best from your team," said Wade Phillips, who is 2-0 on Monday night with the Cowboys, including a stunning 25-24 comeback win over Buffalo in 2007. "I think the players are still excited about playing on Monday Nights. The whole league is watching them and I think they want to perform well for themselves, for their team for whatever they play for, but also there's a little bit of pride playing in front of all of your peers so I think players get excited about that."
The extra day to prepare may have something to do with the better performances. While it is a little tougher to prepare for the next opponent on a short week, teams have plenty of time to rest up and get ready for Monday Night Football.
This year the Cowboys stretched their typical three days of practice a week to four, extending the teaching time to get ready for the Panthers.
"Another day of running," Choice joked. "But shoot, it's another day of preparation. We get out here and all the guys make sure we do things over and over again, things that we had during the week that we didn't get, or any kind of problems we had we have an extra day to come back and do it."
For the extra day of practice and the huge audience around the country, everyone comes into Monday night ready to play.