PHILADELPHIA -- "Monday Night Football" still matters.
By adding games on Sunday and Thursday nights, the NFL has eliminated its uniqueness.
With NBC deciding to take the Sunday night broadcast while leaving Monday to cable television on ESPN, Monday night's official status has been diminished.
And just to add reassurance to the fact that the Sunday night game and not Monday's is considered the prime NFL telecast of the week, the "better" matchup is reserved for Sunday.
But "Monday Night Football" is a cultural icon, and the status of a cultural icon doesn't change all that quickly.
So no matter what the suits in the marketing, sales and broadcast departments decide, to the guys who really make up the sport that is the NFL, a date on "MNF" is still the highlight of the regular season.
"Oh, absolutely," said Eagles safety Quintin Mikell. "If for no other reason than it's the only game being played.
"You do have Sunday night football, which is a big showcase, but there are games before that and there are highlight shows going on.
"But Monday night is it. It's the big lights. I love 'Monday Night Football.' "
Corporate executives can easily dismiss tradition in the quest for more revenue, but from 1970 through 1986, "MNF" was the exclusive prime-time avenue for the NFL.
It was an instant hit that was rarely beaten in the television ratings.
For kids growing up in the 1970s and '80s, ABC's "Monday Night Football" was considered a special occasion -- and Dad let you stay up late to watch with him on a school night.
Even when ESPN began airing Sunday night games in 1987, it was clearly understood that "MNF" was the premier broadcast.
Every person associated with Eagles football operations -- from head coach Andy Reid, who was 12 when "MNF" made its debut, to rookie first-round draft pick Brandon Graham, who was born in 1988 -- grew up knowing that they were the showcase games of the National Football League.
Just because NBC, and probably the NFL, wants the Sunday night game to be considered the most special of the week doesn't make it so.
"Are you kidding?" said Graham, who will play his first "MNF" game when the Eagles take on the Washington Redskins. "Of course, 'Monday Night Football' is a special deal.
"I remember telling my mother that I could not wait for the day that I'd be a starter and be on 'Monday Night Football,' saying, 'Brandon Graham from where,' and that type of stuff.
"All eyes are on you. Everyone has played all day Sunday and there is just one more game that everyone is waiting on.
"Monday night is the biggest. Ask anyone. Everyone loves the opening song and the traditions from 'Monday Night Football.' "
NFL coaches are notorious for downplaying the significance of potential distractions, but all know that it would be silly to try to deny that playing on Monday night isn't a bit more special.
"Well, listen, I will tell you this, your Sunday one o'clock games are fast," Reid said. "The Sunday-night game is a little faster and Monday night is a little faster than that."
Think about it.
Monday is the day of the week when the NFL player gets to be a NFL fan.
Sunday is a work day.
Most players are too beat up from having played earlier to really sit back, relax and enjoy the Sunday night game.
But, "On Monday night, everybody's going to be watching," said Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who is 3-1 on Monday nights. "The game starts at 8:30 p.m. and everybody is tuned in.
"I know I've always been a big fan of 'Monday Night Football,' and I still watch to this day as a fan. Everybody is tuned in, so you have to come out and play at your best."
Mikell said the impact of a first "Monday Night Football" game is something a veteran player feels is worth discussing with a rookie or young player.
"I talked to (rookie safety Kurt Coleman) already about it," Mikell said. "He's making his first start and it's on 'Monday Night Football.'
"Last year, we had (former Eagle Macho Harris) who made his first Monday night start, and I could kind of see before the game how he had the big eyes.
"It happens to everybody. 'Monday Night Football' is something different. I remember having games when I came out and suddenly thought what the hell is going on."
"Monday Night Football" is a piece of Americana.
It has had its uniqueness stripped away. It has been kicked off broadcast television, but it is still the biggest weekly show in the NFL.
"You grow up watching 'Monday Night Football,"' said Eagles rookie receiver Riley Cooper. "So, it's kind of a dream come true to get your first Monday-night game under your belt.
"There is something about those Monday night games, no doubt. This is special. This is what you grew up wanting to play in."