Jeffrey Keirn Wins “Monday Night Football” Competition

Canton artist Jeffrey Keirn is the winner of the $5,000 prize to create a design that captures the spirit of the sixth moment of The ELEVEN: Monday Night Football. His design will become part of a giant banner mural to be installed on the south wall of the Chase Bank Tower (101 Central Plaza South) in downtown Canton, OH. On Monday night September 21, 1970 ABC-TV aired the first NFL game ever — on a weeknight. Some thought the experiment was doomed. But more than 80,000 fans, and a huge television audience, watched the Cleveland Browns defeat Joe Namath’s New York Jets 31-21. Producer Roone Arledge dramatically changed how football was produced on television, starting with using a trio of announcers that included Keith Jackson, Don Meredith and Howard Cosell. The rest is history, and why the Pro Football Hall of Fame selected Monday Night Football as one of professional football’s greatest moments for ArtinStark’s public art series The ELEVEN. Four other Ohio artists will receive $500 prizes for their creative entries: Tommy Morgan (Minerva), Rachel Vaught (Columbus), Dick Close (Cincinnati), and Derek Brennan (Lakewood). “We received lots of great ideas,” says ArtsinStark CEO Robb Hankins, “but Keirn’s bold concept of having the teams exploding right out of the TV set really set him apart as the winner.” The sponsors of the Monday Night Football are: The Deuble Foundation, The Hoover Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, and The Timken Foundation.
 Monday Night Football on Chase Bank Tower – 101 Central Plaza South – before winning image for inside TV has been selectedThis past August, ArtsinStark invited Ohio artists to send in their concepts for an image that would go inside the giant television set being created as part of Monday Night Football. All the entries followed the rules by sending in ideas that would neatly fit inside the TV set — but Keirn’s, whose submission broke out of the TV and took over the entire wall. Members of the Selection Committee were: Sally Morse Dale, Max Deuble, Brian Zimmerman, Emil Alecusan, and Max Barton. 

 ArtsinStark has completed five of the ELEVEN moments to date: The Birth (sculpture), The Draft (sculpture), The Merger (sculpture), The Reintegration (banner mural), and the Super Bowl III (mural). Monday Night Football will be the sixth moment of the series. Keirn, who is a chalk pastel street artist, is a graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and a graphic designer by day. He will have 22 days to finalize his concept, so that ArtsinStark can get Monday Night Football installed by Christmas.

 Here is an excerpt from the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 150 Anniversary Book that explains why Monday Night Football is so important: Sundays have long been synonymous with NFL football. But in 1970, a new weekly tradition that included one featured game on Monday night forever changed the landscape of the game. Few could imagine the enduring impact of ABC’s telecast of the NFL during prime time on a weeknight. Doubters were prevalent when the Cleveland Browns faced the New York Jets in the Monday Night Football debut on September 21, 1970. Yet the tradition became a nationwide phenomenon that captured huge ratings and in turn was a major reason for the NFL’s dramatic rise in popularity in the years that followed.

 BACKGROUND – The NFL will be 100 years old in 2020. ArtsinStark’s goal is to have all 11 moments installed in time for that big celebration. Here are the eleven moments with a short description of each. 

1. Birth of the NFL, 1920. On September 17, representatives of the league’s ten charter teams, including Jim Thorpe and George Halas, meet in the showroom of Canton Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay’s automobile dealership, and create the NFL. (On August 1, 2014 Michael Clapper unveiled his 25-foot steel and glass sculpture.)
2. Red Grange turns Pro, 1925. The Chicago Bears sign college superstar halfback Harold “Red” Grange and he becomes pro football’s first big gate attraction.  

3. The NFL Draft, 1936. NFL Commissioner Bert Bell’s idea of teams selecting college players by inverse order, based on how they finished the prior season, changes the future of clubs overnight. (On August 7, 2015 Gail Folwell unveiled her bronze sculpture.)         
 4. Reintegration of Pro Football, 1946. The Los Angeles Rams sign Woody Strode and Kenny Washington, the Cleveland Browns sign Marion Motely and Bill Willis, and the doors of professional football open for African Americans. (Paul Collins created the painting. Both the painting and the mural were unveiled on August 5, 2016.)

 5. 1958 NFL Championship Game. In what has been called the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts come back to beat the New York Giants in first “sudden death” NFL championship

6. Formation of the American Football League, 1959. The AFL is formed and for ten seasons expands into new markets, creates opportunities, and brings tremendous innovation to the game.
7. Pete Rozelle named NFL Commissioner, 1960. Rozelle begins his 29-year career during which he makes pro football America’s most popular sport, gets the first league-wide TV contract, negotiates the NFL/AFL merger, and transforms the Super Bowl into an international extravaganza.
8. AFL/NFL Merger, 1966. The costly battle between two rival leagues for players and markets ends with the June 8, 1966 announcement of the AFL-NFL merger. (David Griggs unveiled his granite and steel sculpture on June 23, 2016 in front the YMCA downtown.)
 9. The Ice Bowl, 1967. In frigid conditions at Lambeau Field on New Year’s Eve, Bart Starr and the Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21 – 17, cementing the legacy of coach Vince Lombardi and the 1960 Green Bay Packers.

 10. Super Bowl III, 1968. Joe Namath, star quarterback of the AFL’s New York Jets, predicts victory over the NFL’s heavily favored Baltimore Colts and — in one of the greatest upsets in sports history — does exactly that 16 – 7. (On August 4 Dirk Rozich unveiled his mural on the side of Cultural Center for the Arts.) 

 11. Monday Night Football, 1970. The phenomenal success of NFL games telecast during prime time on a weeknight begins on September 21, 1970, when the Cleveland Browns face the New York Jets in ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football debut.