SBD/Issue 129/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL To Open '09 Season With Titans-Steelers On Thursday Night

The NFL yesterday announced its opening-weekend primetime and Thanksgiving Day games for the '09 season. The season will begin with the Steelers hosting the Titans on opening night, Thursday, September 10, on NBC. In its 40th season, "MNF" will debut with Bills-Patriots and Chargers-Raiders on September 14 (NFL).

'09 NFL Kickoff Weekend National Primetime and Thanksgiving Day Games
DATE
DAY
GAME
NET
START
9/10
Thurs.
Titans-Steelers
NBC
8:30pm
9/13
Sun.
Bears-Packers
NBC
8:30pm
9/14
Mon.
Bills-Patriots
ESPN
7:00pm
9/14
Mon.
Chargers-Raiders
ESPN
10:15pm
11/26
Thurs.
Packers-Lions
Fox
12:30pm
11/26
Thurs.
Raiders-Cowboys
CBS
4:15pm
11/26
Thurs.
Giants-Broncos
NFLN
8:20pm

THANKSGIVING FEAST: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes NFL Network on Thanksgiving Day "got what looks like the day's best matchup for its prime-time slot" with Giants-Broncos. The ground rules for NFL scheduling include "allowing only three NFL teams to appear in prime time as many as six times, and to do so one of their games must be on the NFL Network." And no team "can appear on NBC more than four times" (USA TODAY, 3/24).

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: In Pittsburgh, Scott Brown reports the NFL "had coveted the Ravens" for the September 10 season-opener against the Steelers, but the Ravens "reportedly did not want to play another night game in Pittsburgh." The Ravens "have visited the Steelers for prime-time games in each of the past two years." Brown writes NBC "didn't get a bad consolation prize" with Titans-Steelers (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 3/24). Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of the Ravens' decision, "I thought it was interesting, you know. But to each his own" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 3/24).

SPECIAL OCCASION: In San Diego, Kevin Acee notes the September 14 Chargers-Raiders game is the "second half of an all-AFL 'Monday Night Football' doubleheader on ESPN, and all four teams involved will wear replicas of their AFL uniforms" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/24). Meanwhile, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said of Bills-Patriots leading off the September 14 "MNF" doubleheader, "It's pretty special for us to start our 50th season knowing that it's ABC/ESPN's 40th season with football. ... Being on the national stage, we're going to have some fun things planned that day to kick off the season." In Boston, Christopher Gasper notes "one of those fun things could be the Patriots wearing throwback jerseys," as the team as part of the AFL celebration will "wear replicas of their 1963 jerseys at least two times this year" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/24). In Buffalo, Allen Wilson writes, "In terms of storylines, the NFL could not have picked a better matchup for its Monday Night opener." Bills-Patriots will mark WR Terrell Owens' debut with the Bills, and the Patriots expect QB Tom Brady to return after missing the '08 season due to injury (BUFFALO NEWS, 3/24).

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