I bet you’re waiting in anticipation for the release of the 2013 NFL schedule next Tuesday, aren’t you?
You might need to wait until the Tuesday after that.
It seems this is exactly why when ESPN and NFL Network tell you the NFL schedule release is “soon” – no matter how many clues and/or facts that are out there.
There is the possibility of a delay in the release of the 2013 NFL schedule, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who did not cite a reason for a possible delay, other than the Baltimore Ravens’ season opener kerfuffle throwing a monkey wrench in the scheduling process (more on that later).
Whether the league legitimately needs to buy some more time for putting the final touches on the upcoming schedule, or simply throws out bulletins like this to fend off possible NFL schedule “leaks” (like we experienced last year, but it turned out to be a fraud) is anyone’s guess.
Yet a few weeks ago, advanced television listings for ESPN and NFL Network led one to believe that Tuesday, April 16 is the schedule release date, when it could actually be pushed back to no later than April 23 (the NFL Draft is two days later). Even today, the updated schedule listings still provide hints that the networks are ready for a release next week.
As of Wednesday, April 10, here is what’s scheduled on ESPN in primetime for Tuesday, April 16:
First, from 7 to 8 PM, it’s a “SportsCenter Special,” subtitled “Gruden’s QB Camp.” And it features “former NFL coach John Gruden.” Yep, even for a show that isn’t even actually going to air in that time slot, there’s a chyronfail. Brilliant.
There’s another “SportsCenter Special” scheduled at 8 PM: “On The Clock,” an NFL Draft preview.
And finally at 9 PM, it’s “NFL Live” – wait, what? Why on earth would ESPN schedule their hallmark NFL show on a primetime weeknight in the middle of April?
As for NFL Network, regular programming (“NFL Total Access” followed by a “Game Changers” marathon) is scheduled for 7-10 PM on Tuesday, but they’re already promoting a schedule release show of its own – and once again, no date specified, just “coming soon.”
The fact that a report of the possibility of a one-week delay in the NFL schedule release is likely precisely why the league and its broadcast partners refrain from promoting a date weeks in advance.
Regardless of whether or not we will have to wait just a bit longer to find out when the Eagles are playing the Chiefs, and which teams will be in action on Thanksgiving Day, the NFL will likely throw football fans a bone in the days leading up to the complete schedule release date, and that is the identity of the road opponent that the world champion Ravens will play to open the season on September 5; last year, we learned nearly a month before the schedule release date that the Giants would open the season against the Cowboys.
As for the host of this year’s kickoff game, I say it’ll be Denver. Hey, maybe there’s a tug of war between CBS (which owns O&O’s in Denver and Baltimore) and the league over whether or not a possible Ravens/Broncos game can air on NBC? And could that possibly impact the number of appearances Peyton Manning will make on the Peacock Network this year?
These questions and more will be answered soon enough.
Or we could very well be watching a special starring John Gruden on April 16.
UPDATE: The official 2013 schedule release date is Thursday, April 18 at 8 PM ET.