SBD/April 19, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Dick Ebersol Explains Some Of The Thinking That Goes Into Creating The NFL Schedule

Ebersol noted the addition of Thursday night games in the NFL complicates scheduling
Former NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol, who served as a guest analyst on NFL Network's coverage of the '13 schedule release on Thursday night, compared putting together the regular-season schedule to a Rubik's Cube when schedule makers consider the various different factors. Ebersol said there are conflicts with baseball, so "you don't want to be in a Major League ballpark if you can help it during the playoffs." But that is now "down to one stadium" with the Raiders continuing to share O.co Coliseum with the A's. Parking situations also are a "huge consideration," as the Steelers, Chiefs and Cowboys "all share parking with the baseball team" in their respective markets. Ebersol: "We saw that most of all this year in Baltimore, because that's the reason they couldn’t play the Thursday night game (to start the season at home)." He added, "The addition now of so many Thursday night games … means that each one of those teams isn't going to play for the next 10 days. So that makes another thing in this Rubik's Cube. And then you have to factor that the bye weeks all have to fall between Weeks 4 and 12, so teams are getting the rest they need. Then lastly, I think the biggest bugaboo they try to avoid is any team having to play three in a row on the road.” Ebersol noted NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting & Media Operations COO Howard Katz “really likes the process in a big way to end by the Super Bowl,” with the schedule being mostly completed. Ebersol: “Now there are people who can call and lobby for a game or something like that for a couple weeks after that, but by and large, it's over then because once they feed it into the computer they do not want to hear from any network. ... If I have one state secret that I’d like to share, I think one of the most important things in the world is to show flexibility. If the first time Howard says you are not going to get a game, believe him. He is the most honest person I’ve ever dealt with in sports. He tells you that, back off and try to come up with a suitable alternative" ("Schedule Release," NFL Network, 4/18).

UPPING THE ANTE AT THE END: ESPN's Trey Wingo noted the NFL in recent years has "really done a great job making sure those last few games are all division games.” ESPN's Ron Jaworski added, “We saw it all last year, Howard Katz doing the scheduling up there for the NFL and does a tremendous job that last week. Playoff implications all over the place. I love it.” But ESPN's Bill Polian: “If you're a Giant fan, you're mad at Howard Katz because the Giants open at Dallas and then Dallas has a bye prior to playing the Giants in MetLife Stadium” ("SportsCenter Special: NFL Schedule Release," ESPN2, 4/19).
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