- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Like most kids who grew up as sports fans, Andrew Luck used to beg his parents for permission to stay up and watch the second half of the "Monday Night Football" game. While his family was living in Europe, Luck sometimes watched the second half when the Armed Forces Network showed the game tape-delayed.
“If you’re going to have a uniform code violation, 'Monday Night Football' is not the night to do it because they will notice,” veteran Colts backup QB Matt Hasselbeck joked. “Don’t wear your socks too low or have any other uniform malfunctions because that will be a quick $7,500 out of your wallet.”
There have been some memorable moments on "Monday Night Football."
Now it's Luck's turn to have a memorable game in his unofficial coming-out party.
"Monday night, you just think back as a kid growing up, 'Dandy' Don [Meredith] and Howard Cosell," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "You couldn’t wait. Then, to be able to coach and play on Monday night. We know what a privilege it is to play and coach at this level; then, having the opportunity to play on that stage is exciting."
The Colts didn’t make any Monday night appearances during Luck’s rookie season because they were coming off a 2-14 season.
Luck alone is worth watching in this game, but the fact that the Colts are 4-1 and sitting on top of the AFC South makes it even better for them from a national perspective.
“It’s the only show in town,” linebacker Robert Mathis said. “Monday night. They heard about you, now they’re trying to see what you’ve got. You just have to put it on the table.”
Luck’s first real memory of "Monday Night Football" was watching Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre throw for 399 yards and four touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 22, 2003, the day after his father died. Luck was 14 years old at the time.
“Certain games I was able to stay up and watch, good games,” Luck said. “I had sisters to join in the group effort to convince my parents to let us stay up."
Mathis has played with the Colts his entire career. His first Monday night game was as a rookie in 2003 -- Oct. 6, 2003, to be exact.
Does a certain game at Tampa Bay ring a bell?
That was when the Colts rallied from a 21-point deficit with four minutes left in regulation to beat the Buccaneers in overtime.
“I was a young guy following the leaders,” Mathis said. “Playing football until time ran off the clock. We were able to pull it out in overtime.”
Hasselbeck threw his first career touchdown pass on "Monday Night Football." He completed a 9-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal attempt against Minnesota on Dec. 20, 1999.
“I wasn’t the starter then. I was backing up that guy named Brett Favre,” Hasselbeck said. “We knew we were going to call the fake beforehand. We choreographed the whole end zone dance because it’s 'Monday Night Football.' I throw the touchdown to win the game basically, and the third-string tight end goes off and does his own celebration. I’m running in the end zone to celebrate with him -- I jump up to celebrate on the pile and the pile moved. I missed everything and landed right on my face.”
Don't expect Luck to approach this MNF game differently than any other game. That’s not his demeanor. Hasselbeck said they haven’t even touched on its being a Monday night game in any of their meetings, in the locker room or on the practice field, because the goal is still the same: winning the game.
“Preparation shouldn’t change,” Luck said. “Yes, it’s a day later. We had this extra day [on Wednesday]. Flying to the West Coast, I’m glad we were able to do that with San Francisco [in Week 3] to figure that out. You don‘t want to take away from it being Monday night. You prepare the same, and you know it’s a good San Diego team.”