An evocative reminiscence of the 18-year history of TV's Monday Night Football, by Gunther (TV columnist for the Detroit Free Press and author of Basepaths) and Carter (TV critic for the Baltimore Sun). The brainchild of ABC's Roone Arledge and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, Monday Night Football was originally seen as a great risk by football franchises; not the least of concerns was the possibility that national airing of a game would detract from the live gate. But Art Modell of the Cleveland Browns took the leap, signed on, held his breath, and was rewarded with a full house--and Monday Night Football was on its way. Arledge tried to create a vehicle that would entertain--so he signed on Howard Cosell to provide the bite, Keith Jackson (before Frank Gifford took over) to provide color, and Don Meredith for shock value. As Arledge said, ""I'm tired of football being treated like a religion. The games aren't played at Westminster Abbey."" Well, the ""mayhem"" of this book's title wasn't always on the field, as it turned out--there was also plenty of friction between the trio of announcers, as well as between the producers and directors. Viewers changed, too, as Kate and Allie and Cagney and Lacey began to draw off the audience during the 1984 season. But the tradition has survived, becoming, as the authors say, not so much Monday Night Football as football on Monday night. An intelligent account that highlights the little fiascos that make sport so appealing (such as the time that Frank Gifford, announcing a tackle by the Cowboys' Dennis Thurman, stated that Thurman Munson--who was in his grave in Ohio--had made the sack). A book that should appeal to a good many armchair athletes.