The future prime-time television institution "Monday Night Football," now marking its 50th season, was only in its third week on ABC when the Bears made their first appearance.
Dick Gordon caught a pair of touchdown passes from Jack Concannon in a 28-14 loss to the Lions at Tiger Stadium.
The Bears' second appearance, a 1971 road loss to the Dolphins, is notable only because ABC used it to promote the TV movie it aired the next night. The film was a tearjerker called "Brian's Song."
If the Bears hadn't gone 1-8 in their first nine "MNF" appearances, maybe they would be .500 or better on this particular showcase.
Instead, they head into Monday's matchup with against the Redskins on ESPN with a 31-38 record on "MNF."
Some of those telecasts are best forgotten -- and largely have been. Others will long be committed to memory.
Like the Bears making their season debut in the newly remodeled Solldier Field in a 2003 prime-time loss to Brett Favre and the Packers.
Or Doug Plank leveling Buccaneers receiver Jimmie Giles in a 1980 shutout victory.
Or Jay Cutler leading a late 2009 overtime victory against the visiting Vikings.
Here are the Bears' 10 most memorable "Monday Night Football" appearances:
10. Dec. 20, 2010, at Vikings
The last time the Bears faced longtime nemesis Favre was a 40-14 victory in the Minneapolis cold, which clinched a division title. The game was played outdoors at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium because a snowstorm nine days earlier tore open the Metrodome's roof.
Favre went 23-13 against the Bears over his career despite losing all but three of his last dozen starts against them.
On this night, playing with a bad right shoulder, Favre left the game with a concussion after rookie Bears end Corey Wootton took him down. It was Favre's last NFL snap.
9. Sept. 14, 1987, vs. Giants
To open the season of "MNF," the NFL pitted the previous two Super Bowl champions against each other.
The Giants grabbed an early lead on a blocked punt recovered in the end zone. But the Bears asserted themselves in dramatic fashion for a 34-19 victory, sacking Giants quarterback Phil Simms eight times and backup Jeff Rutledge once.
8. Sept. 23, 1991, vs. Jets
With the Jets nursing a 13-6 lead late, defensive tackle Steve McMichael outmuscled the ball from running back Blair Thomas, giving the Bears the ball at the Jets 36 and setting the stage for a Jim Harbaugh-to-Neal Anderson 5-yard touchdown pass as regulation expired.
The Jets blew an overtime field-goal try, and Harbaugh took the Bears downfield. A would-be touchdown catch by Cap Boso was nullified on review, but Harbaugh scored from 1-yard out with just one second on the clock for a 19-13 win.
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7. Dec. 9, 2013, vs. Cowboys
It was 8 degrees at kickoff. The wind chill factor was 9 below.
The Bears routed the Cowboys 45-28 as Josh McCown outplayed Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. But what truly made the night unforgettable was the halftime ceremony honoring Mike Ditka, who had played for both the Bears and Cowboys.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you, and go, Bears!" Ditka told the crowd. If there was a dry eye in the house, it might have been because it was too cold to cry.
6. Dec. 11, 2006, at Rams
When the Hall of Fame gets around to honoring Devin Hester, there will be plenty of "Monday Night Football" clips in his highlight reel, including his two kickoff-return touchdowns in this 42-27 victory in St. Louis. The man was excitement personified, and this victory helped the Bears secure a first-round playoff bye en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
5. Sept. 11, 1995, vs. Packers
It was yet another loss to Favre and the Packers as the Bears' rally fell short, 27-24.
But what made it unforgettable was a stunning catch, and not by anyone on the field. Fan and memorabilia collector Mike Pantazis perfectly timed his leap from the stands to catch an extra-point kick by the Bears' Kevin Butler, which cleared the netting behind the end zone. Pantazis not only held on to the ball, he escaped unhurt. But remember, kids, don't try this at home -- or home games.
4. Oct. 31, 1994, vs. Packers
Soldier Field was one-third empty as biblical rains visited Chicago's lakefront on a night the Bears honored two forces of nature, retiring the numbers of Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers at halftime. Favre didn't complete a pass until the third quarter, yet the Packers defeated the Bears 33-6.
Longtime "MNF" announcer Al Michaels considers it one of his most memorable broadcasts: "Favre had a tremendous game, but the thing I most remember is ... before the game, it was raining so hard -- sideways -- I was on the 30th floor of the hotel and it was just pelting the windows."
3. Oct. 16, 2006, at Cardinals
The Cardinals led 20-0 at the half, only to lose 24-23. It wasn't just that the Bears came back that rankled Cardinals coach Dennis Green. It was how they came back despite trailing 23-3 in the waning seconds of the third quarter. Mike Brown and Charles Tillman scored on defensive fumble returns of 3 and 40 yards, respectively, then Hester ran a punt back 83 yard for another touchdown.
"The Bears are who we thought they were!" Green told reporters afterward. "And that's why we took the damn field! Now if you want to crown 'em, then crown their ass! But they are who we thought they were! And we let 'em off the hook!"
2. Oct. 21, 1985, vs. Packers
At 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, William Perry made a name for himself -- or at least a nickname in "The Refrigerator" -- while still at Clemson University, but this is the game that made The Fridge a global folk hero. Ditka decided to use the rookie defensive tackle as a fullback against the 49ers a week earlier.
Against the Packers, the ante was upped as Perry scored on a 1-yard run to break a 7-7 tie en route to a 23-7 victory.
1. Dec. 2, 1985, at Dolphins
The Bears had two "MNF" appearances in 1985. The second, a 38-24 loss to Dan Marino and the Dolphins at the Orange Bowl, will be remembered because of how much it stings.
It was the lone loss in an otherwise perfect season for a team everyone still talks about. It remains the most-watched game in the history of "Monday Night Football."