Top Ten Reasons Sports Networks Should Stay Away From Rob Parker

ESPN has severed ties with Rob Parker, whose last take on “First Take” was debating whether or not Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “a cornball brother” who is “not down with the cause.”

There will be no next take for Rob Parker.

The “First Take” analyst, who had been serving a month-long suspension for openly wondering if Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “a brother or… a cornball brother,” is officially on a permanent sabbatical from ESPN.

The thirty-day suspension was retroactive to the day Parker uttered those remarks on ESPN2’s “First Take,” December 13. Which means he would have been eligible to return to the Worldwide Leader’s airwaves as soon as next week, perhaps in time for the new Saturday edition of “First Take” that ESPN had named him host of.

Now, because of his last “Take” – his boneheaded RGIII ultimatum – Parker won’t be working for the weekend.

“Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew,” ESPN public relations wiz Mike Soltys disclosed via Twitter, regarding Parker’s contract, which he noted “expired at year end.”

Incidentally, on the first Sunday of the new year, who popped up on the NBC affiliate in Detroit but Rob Parker, maintaining that he didn’t intend for any “backlash” to happen, adding: “We are willing to tackle a lot of stuff that most shows won’t touch or even discuss. I think it’s important and that we’ve done it in a good way.”

See, there’s a reason that, say, Steve Mariucci isn’t breaking down RGIII’s strengths and weaknesses while throwing in that he “may be a Republican,” and that could doom him come November.

In other words, people “won’t touch” it for a reason.

And to go there and proclaim you’ve “done it in a good way”?

If I were George Bodenheimer or John Skipper, I’d break Parker off right then and there, rather than let him finish out the suspension.

But as Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand stresses, ESPN’s decision to ax Parker was made well before his Sunday sitdown in his old stomping grounds surfaced.

Whatever the case… not to pat myself on the keyboard here, but if you read my post on the day Parker’s suspension was made public, December 20, I argued that there could be a possibility that ESPN fire Parker at the end of the suspension. Okay, so he served 85% of it. But the fact of the matter is, he never appeared again on ESPN after his ill-advised RGIII take.

And I would be surprised if he appears on any sports television network in any meaningful role again.

Face it: Rob Parker is damaged goods. Who would want him?

And with that – and with apologies to David Letterman – I give you the top ten reasons, in the form of ten sports networks, or networks with a large sports operation, that will not dare “touch” Parker, as he himself would say.

ABC isn’t on the list, because Disney owns them, as they do ESPN. But here are some others that should have no use for his act:

10. The Golf Channel. Rob Parker probably believes it’s not dark enough for him.

9. NHL Network. The league may have just resolved its four-month-long lockout (you probably would never have known it if you were watching NHLN, unfortunately), but even egotist extraordinaire Gary Bettman isn’t crazy enough to hire Parker even in a “man-on-the-ice interview” role. Also, see Golf Channel.

8. MLB Network. Given Parker’s barbershop experience, they could appoint him as their resident “hair expert” – you know how some baseball players tend to stand out due to their kooky hairstyles. I’m sure there’s at least one MLBN employee that would welcome the move to bring Rob on board.

7. Fuel TV. Believe it or not, there may actually be a use for Parker at this channel, which specializes in MMA and other action sports. And as you may have noticed, many popular cable networks, in an effort to stay relevant when it comes to the bottom line, have been delving into the realm of reality TV. I’ve got the perfect reality show pilot for Rob Parker on Fuel: Viewers watch three crazy fights between couples or groups of people, and then have to figure out which fight was completely staged by Parker! Clearly, he has experience in this field. It would be perfect! Alas, Fuel’s days are numbered as it will eventually become Fox Sports 2 to Fox Sports 1.

6. SPEED. Features the kind of “racing” that Parker isn’t interested in. Also is slated to be blown up in favor of the aforementioned Fox Sports 2 this summer. As for the Fox network itself…

5. Fox. They already have a race baiter on their payroll. Next.

4. MSG Network. They already have a race baiter on their payroll. Next.

3. NBC. Their MSNBC unit canned Don Imus on the heels of his infamous “nappy headed ho’s” line to describe the mostly African-American Rutgers women’s basketball team.

2. CBS. Their WFAN radio canned Don Imus on the heels of his infamous “nappy headed ho’s” line to describe the mostly African-American Rutgers women’s basketball team, hours after MSNBC dropped him.

1. NFL Network. Not only did Rob Parker do a disservice to Robert Griffin III back on December 13 by suggesting he is “not down with the cause” and not the type of “brother” you would want to hang out with, he also did a disservice to the entity that signs RGIII’s paychecks: the National Football League. To hire Parker in any capacity in Culver City – poll taker, social media administrator, janitor – would be the worst move since the idea to hire replacement referees – and we all know how well that went. And you know who else would be ticked off about such a hire by NFLN: Football fans. Parker’s RGIII tirade was a detriment to them, as well. Any level-headed football follower could care less about whether or not Griffin wears braids, or any of the other “issues” Parker felt he had to “tackle”, while at the same time “[not] trying to slam the kid.”

The very next television outlet that hires Rob Parker for on-air work will be committing a slam on human nature.

Looks like he has to fix his Twitter handle now…

Denver Broncos All But Guaranteed Thanksgiving 2013 Game

Based on the release of the opponents of the NFL teams for the 2013-14 season, it’s safe to assume that Peyton Manning will be playing his second Thanksgiving game in nine years, as the Denver Broncos are one of two AFC teams scheduled to visit the Dallas Cowboys.

With the end of the 2012-13 regular season comes the precursor to the release of the 2013-14 NFL schedule: the announcements of the opponents that all 32 teams will be facing, based on the strengths of their schedules the previous season.

I realize that Wild Card Weekend hasn’t even started yet, and I’m probably going to draw dirty looks for my looking ahead to the middle of next season, when the schedule hasn’t even been released yet (and likely will not be for about fifteen weeks or so – not that I’m counting down the days or anything). But I can’t help but make speculations prior to the release of the schedule, usually those that make sense.

So once I saw the AFC opponents that the Dallas Cowboys will be hosting next year, and realizing that the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Classic will air on CBS (the AFC network) next year, I have but one thing to say: No way in Alameda is the NFL going to opt for the Oakland Raiders to visit the Cowboys next Turkey Day, when given the choice between the Raiders and the Denver Broncos.

When you have a choice between scheduling either the Denver Broncos, who ended the 2012 regular season – first one with Peyton Manning under center – with an unprecedented eleven-game winning streak, which not only granted them their current first-round bye in the 2012-13 playoffs which get underway on Saturday, but clinched homefield advantage for the team throughout said playoffs, and the Oakland Raiders, who just fired a quartet of coaches, including their offensive coordinator, and have not won a game on Thanksgiving since they hosted one 45 years ago in the old AFL era, the decision is so easy, even Leon Lett could make it.

The last (and only) time Manning was on the Turkey Day stage, he picked apart the Lions, throwing a half-dozen touchdowns, part of a 2004 season which saw him set a new record for most touchdowns thrown in a season (eclipsed by Tom Brady during the Patriots’ near-perfect season three years later). Manning came one touchdown shy of tying (and possibly breaking) a record seven touchdown tosses in a game, shared by five other quarterbacks, most recently Joe Kapp in 1969.

The Raiders – do we even know who their starting quarterback is going to be in November, let alone in April when the 2013 NFL schedule is released?

It’s a no-brainer: the Denver Broncos will be playing the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day 2013.

And can you imagine if the Cowboys really came out on the short end of the stick (as if losing six of their last seven elimination games at the delinquent hands of Tony Romo wasn’t enough) and drew the other two teams from the AFC West division, the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs, both of whom bid adieu to their own head coaches, and then some, back on Black Monday? CBS would be better off reverting back to the 70’s and airing a Cardinals game (and Arizona has axed a bunch of people this week, as well).

While I’m at it, I’ll also provide some mild speculation on which NFC opponent will face the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day 2013 on Fox. Any one of the Lions’ division rivals (Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings) could easily be penciled in for a showdown at Ford Field on November 28. Then again, the Lions will also be playing the teams in the NFC East in 2013 – and one of the two teams in that division that will be traveling to Detroit is the New York Giants, who despite their inability to defend their recent Super Bowl title after sliding out of playoff contention, will still draw marquee games. As we know, Fox’s marquee NFL games are called by Joe Buck. As we also know, Buck has worked more than his share of Giants games. So with all that said, the Lions hosting their (turkey) leg of the 2013 Thanksgiving Day Classic with the New York Giants, who had not won on Thanksgiving since beating the Lions back in 1982 – when Eli Manning was 22 months old – is my early projection.

The other NFC East team scheduled to play the Lions in Ford Field: the Dallas Cowboys. The only way a date between these two teams on Turkey Day would happen is if the Cowboys did indeed end up getting the Chargers and Chiefs at home this season.

For the record, the sixth NFC team slated to visit Detroit is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but based on their 28-point drubbing by the Cowboys on Turkey Day 2006, I doubt they’ll be considered for Thanksgiving plans for the next 28 years.

As for which teams will be playing Thanksgiving night on NBC next year, the jury is truly out. We’re going from a probability factor of two to six to about 220 here. But believe it or not, one team that could be featured here is – call me crazy – the Denver Broncos.

If you’ve been paying attention, I have written about the possibility of both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning both playing on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. But guess what: the Broncos’ opponents for 2013 have been released, and some of the matchups make Peyton Manning vs. Tony Romo look like Mark Sanchez vs. Brandon Moore’s posterior: you have Denver scheduled to face the Indianapolis Colts, the team that drafted Peyton Manning; the New England Patriots, whose quarterback is Manning rival Tom Brady; and the New York Giants – nuff said.

We remember the Harbaugh Brothers Bowl from a couple of Thanksgivings ago (49ers/Ravens, the last Turkey Day game to be broadcast by NFL Network). So it’s only natural to think that a game with similar family ties like the Manning brothers going at it again would get such billing on Thanksgiving night again. But here’s the problem: it would mean the Oakland Raiders playing the Dallas Cowboys earlier that day. It just can’t happen.

Granted, when the Denver Broncos do play the New York Giants in 2013, it’s a virtual lock to be on NBC: both previous Manning Bowls (the Giants vs. Peyton’s former team, the Colts) in 2006 and 2010 were broadcast on NBC. So this Broncos/Giants tilt is more than likely going to air on NBC, as well – just not on Thanksgiving. It’ll probably be played in September, perhaps the opening game of the season on “Sunday Night Football.” And remember, the game is in Jersey, so if the Broncos win Super Bowl XLVII, it can’t be the “kickoff” game, since it would have to be played in Denver.

In the end, I would think that the game that ends up being scheduled in primetime next Thanksgiving would likely involve at least one AFC team. Not just because two NFC teams host games every year, either: since the night game was added in 2006, only one game was an all-NFC affair: the Arizona Cardinals at the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008. Incidentally, both of those teams are in the process of cleaning house – and are also scheduled to play each other in 2013. And word on the street is that former Eagles coach Andy Reid could become the new head coach in Arizona. And if former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt ended up in Philadelphia? Could that be the Thanksgiving 2013 nightcap?

It couldn’t be worse than the “buttfumble” game last Thanksgiving night.

Or Raiders vs. Cowboys.


Tryptophan, please.

Rob Parker Suspended For One Month, Could Still Be Fired By ESPN

Radio hosts Opie and Anthony, currently at SiriusXM Satellite Radio, were fired by CBS Radio following a long suspension for a lewd stunt involving a Catholic church. The same fate might await Rob Parker for his “holier than RGIII” comments on “First Take”; ESPN has suspended him for one month.

Exactly one week after Rob Parker openly uttered on “First Take” that he suspected Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III might be “a cornball brother” and is “not really down with the cause,” while at the same time, Griffin actually is a “brother” because he dons braids, ESPN formally announced the personality’s suspension.

You may recall that, within 24 hours, the Worldwide Leader had confirmed Parker was suspended “indefinitely”. That “indefinitely” has now been redefined to a thirty-day suspension.

It’s very likely that the month-long suspension is retroactive to December 14, the day he was initially banished temporarily from ESPN’s air. Otherwise, if it’s effective today (December 20), that means that Parker will be eligible to return to “First Take” on Monday, January 21 – or Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The network’s imposing of a thirty-day suspension of Parker comes just one day after he issued an apology through his Twitter account. (And no, all of those tweets and retweets supporting his “cornball brother” perspective have not been taken down.)

That’s two month-long suspensions the Worldwide Leader has doled out this year alone. Back in February, ESPN anchor Max Bretos was suspended for a month for using the term “chink in the armor” during a discussion about Jeremy Lin, then with the New York Knicks, during a segment on ESPNews.

And even though Bretos still remains employed by ESPN (which I don’t have a problem with, by the way), when ESPN says that they’ve “decided to suspend Rob Parker for 30 days”, do not think that the only thing that could happen is Parker serving his suspension and then returning in mid-January and things are hunky dory once again.

Because there still lies the possibility that ESPN ultimately give Parker a permanent vacation in a month from now. As Parker tweeted out his half-assed apology, sources believed that there was a 3 in 4 chance that Parker would be sent packing by the Worldwide Leader for his divisive comments about RGIII.

Remember, ESPN is still conducting a review, and might come across something that hasn’t reared its ugly head yet.

Or worse: The Washington Redskins might advance to the NFC Championship Game.

A number of things could happen that could lead ESPN to fire Parker upon serving out his suspension.

Let’s not forget, it’s possible to be terminated either during or following a suspension.

Ten years ago, radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony had seen their show go into reruns about a week after a “Sex For Sam” contest, which encouraged two listeners to fornicate in a pew inside the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, before CBS Radio finally cancelled the show. Neither Opie nor Anthony issued an apology; then again, this is what they do (and it is admittedly entertaining, usually).

Five years ago, Don Imus, who did issue an apology after receiving backlash for his “nappy headed ho’s” comment was given a two-week suspension by CBS; once sponsors started dropping like flies, CBS changed their tune and pulled the plug on “Imus In The Morning” within three days.

And just a couple of months ago, Columbus sports radio host Scott “The Torg” Torgerson was suspended by Dispatch Media Group/WBNS-FM “97.1 The Fan” after tweeting his desire for an ESPN employee, Desmond Howard, to “die or get fired” so that “College GameDay” can be viewable to him. After one week, “The Fan” fired “The Torg.”

So let’s not rule out the possibility of Rob Parker being fired for his attack on Robert Griffin III. It could still happen.

And just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

As Dr. King himself once said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals.”

Translated: The passionate concerns of many individuals (bloggers and viewers, but mostly, bloggers) led to tireless exertions (ESPN’s “review”) and a subsequent effort for human progress (with “human” in this case being “First Take”). Yet, if ESPN sees itself struggling after suffering from a loss of advertising revenue, the obvious sacrifice would be to terminate Rob Parker.

And that would be justice for all.

(Irony: If you attempt to watch one version of Parker’s RGIII comments on YouTube, you will see the following message: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams and commercially deceptive content.” Ain’t that the truth: “First Take” might be the biggest scam going.)

Rob Parker Sorry For RGIII Attack? Not A Cornball's Chance In Hell

Rob Parker touched a nerve when he suggested on ESPN’s “First Take” that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III might be a “cornball brother,” and attempting to shy away from his “blackness.” He has since been suspended indefinitely by the network.

In the late 1990’s, one of the most popular talk shows on television was “The Jerry Springer Show.” When it launched twenty years ago, it was far from popular. Only when producers began coordinating phony physical violence did its ratings peak.

In 2003, a new daily program launched on ESPN2: “Cold Pizza.” The show featured debates with people such as Skip Bayless and Woody Paige.

Four years later, the show was revamped as “First Take.” Not only would Bayless remain with the show, but he would become a focal point of the program. You could say he’s the “ringmaster” of “First Take.”

In other words, whereas the show featured debates as “Cold Pizza,” as “First Take,” debates were the show.

But recently, there have been several instances on the show that have sparked controversy, including, but not limited to, Bayless suggesting Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter may have used HGH.

Yes, in many cases, these instances happen to be limited to racism. Stephen A. Smith had nonchalantly uttered the phrase “n***er, please,” then later insisted he did not say that phrase because he talks too fast.

The aforementioned Bayless is no angel in the racism department, either: This past summer, a quote attributed to him on the program, stating his disapproval of drafting “white players in the first round of the [NBA] draft” was posted as a tweet to the show’s official Twitter account – and eventually was deleted.

Then you have Rob Parker, who at times joins in “First Take’s” reindeer games. On the December 13 edition of the show, Cari Champion, who you could say is the Steve Wilkos of “First Take,” tossed out a question about what Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III admitting that he doesn’t need to be defined by his race, says about RGIII as a player.

You can read the transcript here, but these are the highlights – or, should I say, lowlights: After assessing that he knows Griffin wants to be the best quarterback in the NFL, as opposed to being “the best black quarterback,” Parker, an African-American, posed this “straight, honest question: Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?” When asked to elaborate on the brilliantly ignorant term that Parker anointed RGIII with, Parker acknowledged that Griffin, while a “black” person, is “not really down with the cause; he’s not one of us.

“He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with because he’s off to do something else.”

Parker then ratted off a few qualities that Griffin possessed that are not common among many African-Americans, like being registered as a Republican and having “a white fiancee,” things that Parker said fueled his quest to “dig deeper” on RGIII, because he believes “he has an issue… I want to find out about him.”

When Bayless brought up the fact that Griffin bears braids, all bets were off. Parker: “Now, that’s different. To me, that’s very urban… Wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”

It was at that point that Stephen A. Smith, another African-American, joined in.

“I’m uncomfortable with where we just went.”

Springer, please.

The video cuts off at that point, but Smith continued by proclaiming that everything about Griffin, from the braids in his hair, to the color of his skin, as well as that of the woman he will be tying the knot with, is “irrelevant” and “none of our business… That’s his life.”

But enough about the life of Robert Griffin. Let’s talk about the life of Robert Parker for a second.

Parker is no stranger to controversy himself. In 2008, he had to retract a report on a Detroit TV station that Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins – who, ironically, is serving as Griffin’s backup on the Redskins this year, and might start against the Browns this weekend – was part of an all-out brawl between football and hockey players, when in reality, he didn’t even set foot out of his parents’ house that night.

Later that year, on the heels of a dubious 0-16 season for the Detroit Lions, Parker, who was also a columnist for The Detroit News, threw a cocky question at then-Lions head coach Rod Marinelli: “Do you wish your daughter had married a better defensive coordinator?” (Marinelli’s daughter, Chris, happened to be wedded to the Lions’ then-defensive coordinator, Joe Barry.)

Of course, following a winless season, the Lions let Marinelli go and also sent his son-in-law packing. But Parker was suspended two weeks by the paper. At the start of the following year, still weighed by guilt from his loaded question at the former Lions head coach, Parker resigned from The Detroit News.

Parker has a history of pushing buttons long before he joined ESPN, so he knows the drill. Don’t think he had no clue what he was doing when he openly questioned the “blackness” of Robert Griffin III.

And ESPN knows what Parker was doing – perhaps quite too well. Many suggest that the remarks made on the show are about as real as the altercations on “The Jerry Springer Show” circa 1997. And ESPN has been known to manufacture controversies, there’s no doubt about that.

As soon as the segment aired, every sports media journalist had a thing or two to say about it. (This one included, of course.) And “Rob Parker” was even trending worldwide on Twitter – for a very, very long time, I might add.

But this is the kind of attention that ESPN thrives on now. It’s why, in fact, ESPN has not only expanded the “First Take” franchise into weekends during the “College GameDay” offseason, but is also considering importing that same “embrace debate” attitude from “‘hearsed Take,” I mean, “First Take,” into “SportsCenter.”

Parker will certainly issue an apology, but it’ll be about as genuine as Stephen A. Smith’s “I was talking too fast” defense on inadvertently dropping an N-bomb.

And even if Smith might have been dishonest at that point, he certainly proved to be way more credible than Rob Parker, when after his “cornball” diatribe, he said, “I don’t judge someone’s blackness… I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.”

Hours later, a Worldwide Leader PR person stated that Rob Parker’s “comments were inappropriate and we are evaluating our next steps.”

The next step should be for ESPN to curb the “First Take” empire before it takes whatever credibility it has left with it.

“The Jerry Springer Show” still airs on syndicated television today, but it’s not the same woman-slapping, chair-throwing, Steve Wilkos-restraining “Jerry Springer Show” that we’ve come to know back in the late 1990’s.

If John Skipper, George Bodenheimer and company aren’t careful, this could be the beginning of the end of ESPN as we know it – the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader.

UPDATE: The next day, ESPN suspended Rob Parker “until further notice”; the network is also “conducting a full review”.

Until next time, take care of yourself, and each other.

Alex Karras Dead At Age 77

Howard Cosell enjoys a laugh from Alex Karras during a “Monday Night Football” broadcast in 1976. The former Detroit Lions defensive tackle has died at age 77. He had suffered kidney failure late last month.

Former “Monday Night Football” commentator Alex Karras has died.

The actor/athlete/analyst had been suffering from a combination of kidney disease, heart disease, stomach cancer, and most recently, dementia. He had been receiving hospice care at his home in Los Angeles since last weekend and passed away on Wednesday morning at age 77.

A four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who played a dozen seasons in the NFL, all with the Detroit Lions, Karras enjoyed a successful career off the field, with memorable roles in movies such as “Porky’s” and “Against All Odds,” and on the small screen, he and his wife, Susan Clark co-starred in “Webster,” with Emmanuel Lewis, who played the title role.

But football fans in the mid-70’s remember Karras as a commentator alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in the “Monday Night Football” booth for three seasons. It was during this span that Don Meredith had left for NBC to work with Curt Gowdy. Meredith bookended Karras in the “MNF” booth with two stints (1970-1973, 1977-1984).

In fact, Karras was not ABC’s initial choice to replace Meredith in the 1974 season, but rather, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson – who, like Karras, is a native of Gary, Indiana. However, when “The Hammer” went to work during preseason “MNF” telecasts, ABC executives did not like what they saw. So they went and selected Karras, likely off of a wave of popularity from his role as Mongo in “Blazing Saddles” which was released in the spring of 1974. Though Karras did have some experience in the field, as he worked the booth for Canadian Football League games in the early 1970’s.

Karras appeared to have hit it off in his very first “MNF” broadcast on September 16, 1974, when he made a comment during that night’s Bills/Raiders matchup about Oakland defensive end Otis Sistrunk, who did not attend college, the Raiders listing his alma mater in their program as “U.S. Mars.” – an abbreviation for “U.S. Marines.” At one point during the game, when steam was rising from Sistrunk’s bald head, Karras joked that the player went to “the University of Mars.”

As a result of the aforementioned dementia diagnosis, he joined other former NFL players in a lawsuit against the league for failure to protect them from concussions.

Since late September, according to an account Clark gave to an acquaintance, Karras suffered kidney failure, and parts of his body started swelling. Mike Tirico acknowledged Karras’ grave condition late in the October 8 edition of “Monday Night Football.” With 17 seconds remaining, and the Houston Texans about to advance to an undefeated 5-0 record with a 23-17 victory over the New York Jets, he said: “Saw the news here earlier this evening that Alex Karras is in very poor health. He was a part of the NFL during his days with Detroit. One of the less than two dozen folks to be in the “Monday Night Football” booth, ’74 through ’76. We wish good thoughts to Alex and his family, as he’s struggling with his health, here tonight.

Added Jon Gruden: “He was a great one.”

SportsRantz sends our thoughts and prayers to Alex Karras, his family and his loved ones.

Hump Start: NFL Moves 2012-13 Season Kickoff Game To Wednesday Night

Once again, the New York Giants find themselves in an interesting position: beginning their defense of their NFL championship a little earlier due to a conflict with an election convention. This year, the Giants will kick off the season on a Wednesday night, playing the first Wednesday NFL game since 1948.

Are you ready for some football? On a Wednesday?

As President Obama would say, yes, we can.

For the first time in 64 years, a regular season NFL game will be played on a Wednesday night – and it’ll be the very next NFL game, which opens the 2012-13 season.

And for the second time in five years, it’ll be at the expense of the World Champion New York Giants.

Here’s the deal: The game, which will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, home of the Giants, was originally scheduled, as has been the case for the past dozen years, on the first Thursday of September following Labor Day.

This year, that would be September 6. Incidentally, 2012 is an election year, and each election year, the Republican and Democratic National Committees have been hosting four-day conventions during the final week of August and first week of September, alternating each year. The final day of the convention – Thursday – is the crescendo which closes with a speech from the main candidate (or sitting President).

There was no conflict in 2004 because the Democratic convention was held in July of that year. However, in 2008, so as not to step on Republican nominee John McCain’s address, the NFL moved up the time of the season opener – also involving the Giants, who had won Super Bowl XLII – from an 8:30 PM (ET) start time to about a 7 PM kickoff. The ratings were decent, but apparently not decent enough to the point that the Giants will be playing another early Thursday night season opener.

So on Tuesday, the NFL decided to simply move the game to the previous night, Wednesday, September 5. It will be the first time since the fall of 1948 that a regular season NFL game would be played on a Wednesday. On that day, September 22, 1948, to be precise, the Detroit Lions lost to the Los Angeles Rams, en route to a 2-10 season; the Rams finished 6-5-1. (In case you’re wondering, the Philadelphia Eagles won the championship that year.)

This will be the second time in three years that a regular season NFL game will be played on an unorthodox day of the week. In late December 2010, a Sunday afternoon game involving the aforementioned Eagles was moved to Tuesday night due to extreme blizzard conditions in Philadelphia. The visiting Vikings – playing out the string a la the Asheville Tourists after a blizzard back home impounded the Metrodome – won the game behind the unlikely arm of Joe Webb.

The Giants’ first opponents of the 2012-13 season is still to be determined. In 2008, the Giants beat the Washington Redskins in the season opener. With politics once again coming into play in the Giants’ defense of their Lombardi trophy, don’t be surprised if the Giants once again square off against Washington on September 5; the start time will remain 8:30 PM ET. (The two teams have actually faced each other on the season opener for the last two years.)

And in case you’re wondering: no, the Giants don’t play the Chicago Bears this season, so that was not a factor in moving up the season opener to Wednesday to accommodate big-time Bears fan President Obama the following night.