The Green Bay Packers are opening the NFL season — yes, the whole damn thing — at the Seattle Seahawks in the annual Thursday night kickoff game. They were one of four teams considered for that marquee slot and while it was probably obvious to all of us they’d end up there, it wasn’t quite that much of a slam dunk.
The other teams that were considered were the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and, briefly, the Dallas Cowboys.
First of all, let’s just throw away the Cowboys because, A. they fucking suck and B. no one wants to watch the Cowboys on opening night. We’ll assume that’s the reason they were only briefly considered — because the schedule makers came to their senses soon after that initial brain fart.
Here’s the more diplomatic answer from NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz. And yes, I sifted through 3,000 words of Peter King’s bloated, bullshit column to find this.
“I guess we could’ve played Dallas, but we really liked Dallas for the FOX doubleheader for Week 1. Dallas also had Texas Rangers conflicts the first month of the season. Putting them on the road in Week 1 might have doomed them for four or five road games in the first few weeks.”
Blah, blah, blah. What that really means is, although they may draw well, no one considers the Dallas Cowboys worthy of a marquee game.
So, what about San Francisco? Now that’s a marquee game and a great rivalry.
“I thought we had a better place to use the San Francisco-Seattle game, because it has become such an incredibly great rivalry game,” Katz said. “It seemed to us that saving that game for later in the season on NBC was probably a smarter move.”
So instead, the 49ers get two late-season matchups with Seattle in the space of three weeks. Those are in week 13 and 15 and, we imagine, will decide the division. Only one of those games is a prime time game and it’s the one in San Francisco (week 13).
Not being biased for the Packers for a moment, you kind of have to wonder about that decision. What if one of these teams has an injury epidemic like the Packers do every year and they’re out of it by the time week 13 rolls around?
The marquee game is no longer the marquee game that it would have been in week 1. The Packers are still going to draw even if they’re 0-10.
That leads us to believe the NFL values the storyline of the Packers-Seahawks more so than it does the rivalry game. We all know what happened the last time the Packers played in Seattle and rehashing that BS is going to create more intrigue for the casual fan than, hey, two teams that play each other twice every year are playing tonight.
And of course, that means more money.
But what about the Broncos? Peyton Manning and his fivehead could go and get some redemption. Everybody knows who Peyton Manning is and that makes one hell of a story too.
Except, the NFL was worried that the Seahawks would roll the Broncos like they did in the Super Bowl. And then people are tuning out at halftime and you’ve got some pissed off advertisers on your hands.
So the league takes a gamble on the Packers. They draw well, there’s a great story prepackaged and we’ll assume that Aaron Rodgers will be upright at that time, so he should keep it competitive even if the Packers are outmatched.
Now, only four months until that game is actually here.