NFL Schedule: Goodell Optimistic Season Will Go On As Expected
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday "struck an optimistic tone" in an interview with NFL Network after the announcement of the '11 regular-season schedule, saying that the season "would be played as intended," according to Albert Breer of NFL.com. Goodell: "We're doing all we can to prepare for the 2011 season. We're announcing the schedule as usual, around this time of year, because we know that is an important point where fans start looking forward to the season, and I think there's every reason for them to do that. We have every intention of playing a full schedule, and that's why we're releasing it as we normally do." When asked if Week One would be played as planned, Goodell said, "We've set the schedule up to play the full 16-game schedule, and that's certainly our intention, that's how we put the schedule together, and we certainly are working towards that" (NFL.com, 4/19). NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said, "If and when it becomes clear that we cannot play the schedule as it was announced today, we will make the appropriate adjustments with an eye toward minimizing changes" (USA TODAY, 4/20).
CONTINGENCY PLANS: In Houston, Jerome Solomon wrote it is "more likely that if the lockout erases only the season opener, that everything wouldn't be pushed back a week, just that the season openers would be played in Week 18, after all other games are played" (CHRON.com, 4/19). In Philadelphia, Paul Domowitch writes the league has "a little bit of flexibility." The Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, but the NFL "has asked the city's Super Bowl Host Committee to leave open the following week, so the Super Bowl could be moved back to Feb. 12." The league also "could eliminate the off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, which means the start of the season could be delayed until the week of Sept. 25 and a full 16-game schedule could still be played" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/20).
COULD BE ALL FOR NAUGHT: FOXSPORTS.com's Alex Marvez wrote NFL fans "couldn't ask for a much sexier opening to the 2011 regular season" than Week One's schedule, but there is "just one catch: None of this matters if the NFL work stoppage doesn't end." Marvez: "The NFL schedule release is usually akin to a kid peeking inside his parents' closet in December. They'll learn what presents will be waiting under the tree but still can't open them until Christmas morning" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/19). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford writes "getting excited about the release of the actual schedule" this year is "more difficult than usual" (PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER, 4/20). ESPN's Michael Smith said, "This lockout has just completely taken the buzz away from everything" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 4/19).