NESN's News Department Is In A Real Pickle After Reporting Bogus Brian Urlacher Item

 

 

 

 

 

 

NESN's news ticker strikes out as they report former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher signs a one-day contract with the Green Bay Packers. The source of this "news" was Sportspickle, a sports satire news website.

NESN’s news ticker strikes out as they report former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher signs a one-day contract with the Green Bay Packers. The source of this “news” was Sportspickle, a sports satire news website.

Perhaps you’re accustomed to seeing that scrolling line of information that is the news ticker. Revolutionized by the cable news networks, and as far as sports is concerned, by ESPN, virtually all cable news and sports networks, regional and national, are maintaining their own version of the ticker in some form. And they’re usually chock full of news briefs from stories reported by such renowned sources as The New York Times, The Associated Press, Fox Sports, The Wall Street Journal, and Sportspickle.

Wait, what?

Yes, an item from the sports news satire website (think The Onion with a sports flair) actually passed off as serious news to NESN viewers.

Whoever was put in charge of loading the news items on NESN’s bottom-of-the-screen news ticker on Friday must be naive. During live coverage of the ACC Baseball Tournament, the first item that the ticker, which NESN dubs “The Edge,” focused on under “top stories” was Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who retired this week after spending thirteen seasons in the Windy City. That much is true.

But the item that NESN decided to report was the satirical news story originally posted Thursday on Sportspickle titled, “Brian Urlacher Retires As A Green Bay Packer.”

Fact is, Urlacher has not been aligned with any NFL team since he parted ways with the Bears in mid-March, and recently turned down a $2 million deal that the team proposed to him before finally calling it quits when no other NFL franchise could come to the table with a desirable offer.

And while there was a little buzz about one of the Bears’ divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, possibly courting the eight-time Pro Bowler, it did not seem that the team that has controlled the NFC North for most of Urlacher’s career, the Green Bay Packers, would pursue him.

So one day after he made his decision official, Sportspickle seized the opportunity to pen a fantasy piece reporting that he had “[signed] a one-day contract with the team,” one that Urlacher was quoted as satirically saying is “unquestionably the best franchise in the NFC North throughout my career and, really, all of NFC North history.”

The piece continues: “Urlacher then fought back tears (fake tears) as he spoke about how much it means to him to no longer be a part of the Bears: ‘You dream of this your whole career but never really believe it could happen,’ he said, tears rolling down his cheeks.”

The pretend Urlacher also attested that “if my old Bears teammates are truthful, they’d all rather be on the Packers… even Jay Cutler. I’m sure the Packers would be happy to sign him to a one-day contract so he could retire as their third-string quarterback.”

Oh, and that “quote” from Urlacher about wanting to “go out a winner”? Yeah, that was included in NESN’s “Edge” blurb, too.

It’s the second time in as many years that a television network – or at least their employees who are supposed to be vetting the news before it makes it on the air – fell for a spoof sports story. Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate had reported on their morning news broadcast that longtime Steelers wideout Hines Ward had signed with the rival Baltimore Ravens, after the website Bro Council presented a phony piece (which even tipped off to readers in big letters at the end that it was a “spoof”) on the player, who would eventually join NBC a couple of months later.

The station made up for the confusion by giving Ward his own seasonal series on Saturday nights.

With that said, how is Brian Urlacher, or for that matter, “Da Bears,” even remotely related to New England sports? He’s a native of Washington state, he attended school in New Mexico, and that wrestling match he participated in was in Tennessee. It seems like the only time he would spend on the entire East Coast would be exclusively on business.

As for NESN’s business, which includes delivering sports news, you could say it took a bit of a hit on Friday for, well, ‘Lach-ing journalistic credibility.

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2013 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Broncos, Falcons, 49ers, Giants, Patriots, Redskins Have Five Games Each

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins will play five games in primetime this season, starting with the 2013 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 9 on ESPN.

Here is the list of all the primetime games scheduled for the 2013 NFL season.

Commentary to follow… Actually, I’ll get the back-patting out of the way early: I called the Ravens/Broncos opener on September 5, and I called the Washington Redskins getting five primetime games this season, up from just one last year.

And here are the games:

Thursday, September 5 – Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 8 – New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 9 – Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins – 7:10 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 9 –  Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers – 10:20 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 12 – New York Jets @ New England Patriots – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 15 – San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 16 – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 19 – Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 22 – Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 23 – Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 26 – San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 29 – New England Patriots @ Atlanta Falcoms – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 30 – Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 3 – Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 6 – Houston Texans @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 7 – New York Jets @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 10 – New York Giants @ Chicago Bears – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 13 – Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 14 – Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 17 – Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 20 – Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 21 – Minnesota Vikings @ New York Giants – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 24 – Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 27 – Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 28 – Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 31 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Miami Dolphins – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 3 – Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 4 – Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 7 – Washington Redskins @ Minnesota Vikings – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 10 – Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 11 – Miami Dolphins @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 14 –Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 17 – Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 18 – New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 21 – New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 24 – Denver Broncos @ New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 25 – San Francisco 49ers @ Washington Redskins – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving) – Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 1 – New York Giants @ Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 2 – New Orleans Saints @ Seattle Seahawks – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 5 – Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 8 – Atlanta Falcons @ Green Bay Packers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 9 – Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 12 – San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos – 8:25 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 15 – Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 16 – Baltimore Ravens @ Detroit Lions – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 22 – New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 23 – Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers – 8:40 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 29 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:30 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, San Diego Chargers.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans.

———————————————————————————————————————-

OBSERVATIONS: So, let me get this straight: The Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, yet the runner-up gets one more primetime game in the ensuing season than the World Champions? Explain that to me.

Also, explain to me how the NFL didn’t greenlight the Denver Broncos going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. This was a given when the AFC opponents for the Cowboys were released at the top of the year. Or so I thought. Now, it’s going to be a chance to pass out with tryptophan in between another Packers/Lions matinee and the Ravens hosting another Thanksgiving night game, this time against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

I wonder if Peyton Manning not getting a Thanksgiving date with Tony Romo was a byproduct of the Broncos actually hosting the NFL kickoff game.

Predictably, the Eagles/Chiefs game with Andy Reid bringing a new squad into Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia is an NFL Network Thursday night affair.

Predictably, that’s the Chiefs’ lone primetime game. The Jaguars’ sole primetime tilt in 2013 is also on NFLN, as was the case last year. Ditto for the Browns and the Bills, who actually play each other on an NFLN game; the Bills and the Dolphins killed two birds with one Thursday night primetime stone last season.

Thr Dolphins improve from one primetime game last year to three this year. Same with the Vikings. The Colts go from one primetime game last season to four this season. And I’ve already told you about the Redskins’ maxing out at five games, up from one last year.

Further proof NBC loves the NFC East: The Cowboys and Giants open the “Sunday Night Football” 2013 campaign. The Cowboys will appear on “SNF” three times this year, as will the Giants. Two of the Redskins’ five night contests are on NBC; two of them will air on ESPN. Eagles? Nowhere to be found on NBC’s initial schedule. Of course, the latter half of the season allows flex scheduling, so if the Eagles are actually a good team, they’ll likely see more than just the two games (down from five last year() they’ve been scheduled this year. In other words: the Cowboys/Eagles game that was not flexed out late last season might be the last time in awhile you’ll hear Al Michaels working an Eagles game.

And for the first time in recent memory, there are no Saturday games scheduled. The Bay City Rollers will now have to find alternate ways to be preoccupied this year.

2012 NFL Schedule: The Primetime Games: Bears, Broncos, Chargers, Eagles, 49ers, Giants, Packers, Steelers Have Five Games Each

Mark your calendars: Here's the complete listing of primetime games scheduled for the 2012 NFL season.

Here is the list of all of the primetime games scheduled for the 2012 NFL season. Commentary to follow…

Wednesday, September 5 – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, September 9 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 10 – Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens – 7 PM ET – ESPN

Monday, September 10 – San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders – 10:15 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 13 – Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 16 – Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 17 – Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 20 – New York Giants at Carolina Panthers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 23 – New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, September 24 – Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, September 27 – Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, September 30 – New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 1 – Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 4 – Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 7 – San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 8 – Houston Texans at New York Jets – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 11 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 14 – Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 15 – Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 18 – Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 21 – Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 22 – Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, October 25 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, October 28 – New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, October 29 – San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 1 – Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 4 – Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 5 – Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 8 – Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 11 – Houston Texans at Chicago Bears – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 12 – Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 15 – Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, November 18 – Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 19 – Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 22 (Thanksgiving) – New England Patriots at New York Jets – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, November 25 – Green Bay Packers at New York Giants – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, November 26 – Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, November 29 – New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 2 – Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 3 – New York Giants at Washington Redskins – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 6 – Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 9 – Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 10 – Houston Texans at New England Patriots – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Thursday, December 13 – Cincinnati Bengals at Philadelphia Eagles – 8:20 PM ET – NFL Network

Sunday, December 16 – San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Monday, December 17 – New York Jets at Tennessee Titans – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Saturday, December 22 – Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions – 8:30 PM ET – ESPN

Sunday, December 23 – San Diego Chargers at New York Jets – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

Sunday, December 30 – [Teams to be determined following Week 16] – 8:20 PM ET – NBC

TEAMS WITH FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES: Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers.

TEAMS WITH FOUR PRIMETIME GAMES: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets.

TEAMS WITH THREE PRIMETIME GAMES: Cincinnati Bengals.

TEAMS WITH TWO PRIMETIME GAMES: Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs,  Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans.

TEAMS WITH ONE PRIMETIME GAME: Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Well, I guess I came up a bit short with my predictions of six primetime games for the Jets and the Cowboys. As it turns out, they didn’t even get five primetime games.

But what shocks me the most is the fact that one of the Jets’ primetime games is not against the Jaguars. It’s currently scheduled for Sunday, December 9 at 1 PM ET on CBS – but there’s a good possibility that it could be flexed to Sunday night. You’ve got to give the NFL credit for scheduling it this late in the season: not because it could be flexed to NBC if need be, but as it even says right on the NFL.com splash page for the 2012 Jaguars schedule, “Tebow could be the Jets’ starting quarterback” by then!

The Jaguars will get one primetime game (at least I got that prediction right) – but it’ll be against the Colts, who will also play their lone primetime game in Jacksonville. Dolphins/Bills and Buccaneers/Vikings are two other primetime matchups that pretty much uphold the “at least one primetime game for each team, guaranteed” quota.

Also, I was generally right about the Broncos, with Peyton Manning under center for the first time, opening the season on “Sunday Night Football.” I wrote yesterday that the Steelers and Texans matchups were ripe for primetime, and while I personally hoped the Broncos would open against the Texans, for reasons I previously explained (for the record, they’ll meet in Week 3), it looks like the Steelers will indeed square off against Peyton and his new crew at Mile High.

Speaking of the Broncos, another strong prediction of mine was that the Broncos’ matchup with the Patriots would be scheduled for Thanksgiving night on NBC. I was half-right: the Patriots will be in the mix, but instead, it’ll be against the division rival New York Jets, and Gang Green’s first Thanksgiving game since they hosted Cincinnati just a few years ago.

As for that Patriots/Broncos game… yes, it’ll be on CBS, and so early in the season (Week 5) that it certainly wouldn’t be flexed into “Sunday Night Football.” I wonder if Robert Kraft had a hand in this decision, too?

Oh, those Broncos… I wrote yesterday that I was waffling between four and five primetime games, and since they actually got five, I’ll claim that as another accurate prediction. I’m actually surprised that teams like the Bears and the Chargers got five games. Both of these teams missed the playoffs last year. You figured the Eagles – who really missed the playoffs badly last year – would get their customary five primetime games, no matter what. But the Chargers? Who were thisclose to firing their head coach and general manager? If that went down, we would probably be talking about how the Chargers got two primetime games or less.

And yes, based on comments posted on my previous post, I am aware that teams traditionally get five primetime games at most when the schedule is first released, with a sixth coming by way of Sunday night “flexing” (which is how the Cowboys accomplished that feat last year). My point was, rules were made to be updated. You can bet the maximum number of primetime games will be altered somewhere down the road. How soon, I’m not sure. But with more primetime games being schedule, comes more opportunities to play in primetime. Let’s face it: Would you rather watch the Bears or the Browns? (And for the record, I don’t know if he was joking or not, but Andrew Siciliano, within the hour before the schedule being released, said on “Total Access” during an item on the Broncos that he believed they’d “max out with six primetime games”. Maybe he expects the maximum to be updated, too.)

Of the eight teams with five primetime appearances, three of these teams (Giants, Packers, Steelers) appear three times on “Sunday Night Football”; this includes the Wednesday, September 5 season opener against the Cowboys, who will also make three NBC appearances, as will the Patriots (this includes Thanksgiving). Of course, these are all subject to change, thanks to “flex scheduling”. Also, the Bears will appear three times on “Monday Night Football”, with the 49ers, Broncos, Chargers and Eagles each appearing twice on “MNF,” as will the Jets, Falcons, Lions and Texans – accounting for half of their four primetime appearances in 2012. And every team appears on NFL Network just once. (Of course, NFLN games are simulcast on local broadcast outlets in the cities of the teams playing.)

And there is one lone Saturday night game: it’ll be on ESPN on December 22. This explains why there is no Monday night game on Christmas Eve. Funny, the NFL had no problem playing games on Christmas in recent years. Heck, they played fourteen games on Christmas Eve last year.

All that being written… just 141 days left until all of these games are finally played for your viewing (and gambling, if you prefer) enjoyment.

Game(s) on!

Prediction: Jets And/Or Cowboys Will Play A Whopping Six Primetime Games In 2012

There's a good chance you might be seeing a little bit more of Tony Romo and Tim Tebow in primetime this season. That's because Sportsrantz is predicting that the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets are strong candidates to be granted six primetime games. Per NFL rules, as many as three teams can play a maximum of six primetime games in a season.

In what is perhaps the worst kept secret in all of sports (unless you ask Duffy’s), the NFL announced today that the entire 2012 schedule will be released tomorrow – Tuesday – at 7 PM ET, coinciding with a special on NFL Network. ESPN will air their own special devoted to the schedule release, as well.

And with the complete 2012 NFL schedule comes a bigger primetime picture.

The additional six primetime games are made possible by NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” package expanding from eight games to thirteen, with the Thanksgiving night game, carried on NFL Network since they began telecasting regular season NFL games, airing on NBC effective this year. As part of this deal, commissioner Roger Goodell guaranteed that all 32 teams would play at least one primetime game every year.

Which means the five teams that were snubbed by the night spotlight – Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans – will somehow be ready for primetime in 2012.

But this post isn’t about the teams privileged to play primetime games – but rather, the ones that will be perhaps too privileged.

In 2011, there were a grand total of 42 scheduled primetime games, not counting the Week 17 “Sunday Night Football” season finale on NBC. Of these 42 games, 25 of them involved six teams that were awarded five primetime games each: the New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Indianapolis Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles and, despite their 6-10 record the previous season, the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, one of these games, the Colts/Patriots contest originally scheduled for Sunday night, December 4 on NBC, was flexed back to CBS in exchange for Lions/Saints – so by virtue of that maneuver, the Saints ended up getting five primetime games. And of course, the Cowboys/Giants season finale was flexed to Week 17, effectively giving the Cowboys a total of six primetime games in 2011.

So it’s obvious that an NFL team playing six primetime games in a season can be done. But with more primetime games to spread around, what are the odds that one team – maybe two – end up getting six games on the 2012 scheduled for primetime? According to NFL rules, a maximum of three teams can make as many as six primetime appearances in a single season.

So when you factor in the Colts clearly not getting five primetime games in 2012, and perhaps ditto for the Bountygate-suspension-plagued Saints, you get the sense that with an expanded primetime menu, while all 32 teams will be guaranteed at least one game, not only will some teams get more primetime exposure – particularly one playing with a future Hall of Fame quarterback for the first time – but teams that have already been experiencing the ultimate primetime exposure, in the form of five games, will be ripe for a sixth primetime game.

And no matter how wishy-washy Rex Ryan may be about an encore on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” whether he likes it or not, his Jets team will be featured in six primetime games when the schedule is finally released on Tuesday.

You read me right: I predict that the New York Jets will get more primetime games this season than the New York Giants, who won the previous Super Bowl! And it isn’t just the Rex Ryan factor, but it’s definitely the Tim Tebow factor. The team says they plan to get Tebow involved with a large number of plays in each game, but if you figure he gains the starting job halfway through the season, it’s possible most of the Jets’ primetime games will be played in the second half of 2012.

And yes, among this six-pack of prime-timers will be the lone primetime game that the Jaguars will play in 2012. That game will probably be on ESPN or perhaps NFL Network. In fact, here are the six teams that the Jets might be facing under the lights this season: 49ers, Chargers, Texans (home); Jaguars, Patriots, Steelers (away).

And here’s another bold prediction: Not only will the Jets be maxing out on primetime appearances when the initial 2012 schedule is released, but there will be a second team to follow suit – because, remember, you can have up to three teams playing six primetime games in a single season – and that second team would be the team that the Jets opened up their 2011 campaign against, fittingly in primetime: The Dallas Cowboys.

There’s a reason why the Cowboys are labeled “America’s Team”: because America watches them in droves. In fact, that September 11 Jets/Cowboys contest on NBC last year ended up being the most-watched edition of “Sunday Night Football” – that is, until the final game of the regular season, which also involved the Cowboys. In fact, the six top-rated “Sunday Night Football” games featured the Cowboys. The NFL knows what it’s doing by scheduling the Cowboys against the Giants to open the season on September 5. The league knows it cannot do wrong by scheduling the season opener for the Cowboys on NBC in primetime for three years in a row.

That’s why when I analyzed the “leaked” 2012 NFL schedule, which the leaker since confessed to creating himself, my jaw hit the floor when I found that there were no Cowboys games in the plans on NFL Network. And historically, Cowboys games on NFL Network were played on Saturday nights. The ‘Boys are no stranger to Thursday games – why, we watch them every Thanksgiving as we fill ourselves up with turkey and brussels sprouts. I suppose NFL teams can only play one Thursday game per season? Well, in the event that’s not set in stone, you can certainly put me down for a Cowboys six-pack.

The Cowboys’ half dozen primetime games might play like this: At home, they’ll host the Redskins and Steelers, but they’ll play four primetime games on the road: the Bengals, the Eagles, the Falcons, and of course, the season opener against the World Champion Giants. Bonus prediction: On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys will play the Bears.

As previously mentioned, I predict the Giants will receive less primetime games than their Metlife Stadium mates, the Jets, despite winning the big game back in February. They’ll get five. As will the Eagles, Packers, Patriots and Ravens.

Then, there’s the Denver Broncos. I’m literally on the fence as far as whether or not Peyton Manning’s new team will play four primetime games or five. But I can guarantee that two home games against the Steelers and the Texans are shoo-ins for primetime clearance. I liked the Broncos opening up the 2012 campaign with Manning under center for the first time on “Sunday Night Football” against the Texans, the team that ended his personal consecutive games started streak, when the fake 2012 NFL schedule came out a few weeks ago. I’d like it to happen for real when the actual 2012 NFL schedule is released. And while the Broncos eliminated the Steelers from last year’s playoffs behind Tim Tebow, who of course is no longer with the team, those “playoff elimination revenge” gamea are always entertaining. And then there’s another playoff rematch from last year – that Broncos road game in New England. Who knew that NBC and CBS would both be smitten by Tebowmania last year and squabble over the carriage of a regular season game between these two teams. But with Peyton Manning involved, it’s a whole new ballgame. Yes, the quarterback rivalry between Manning and Tom Brady that had shone during all of those Patriots/Colts contests begins a new era when Manning represents the Broncos. With CBS carrying the previous two matchups between these two teams in the Tebow era, the least that the NFL can do is give this game to NBC. They could wisely schedule it in the late fall, which is when Brady and Manning usually square off, or they could make this the “SNF” season opener on September 9. Either way, look for that game to end up on NBC. It’s only fair. Heck, maybe it could be the Thanksgiving night game. In fact, that matchup on Thanksgiving night might just break all existing Cowboys primetime game records.

And yes, the Patriots will also host the Colts in a game this season… This would be a perfect Monday night game for ESPN.

With all 32 NFL teams guaranteed at least one primetime game starting this year, it would be quite perplexing to come up with which opponents will make up their night contests (well, most of them; see: Jets/Jaguars). So I won’t go through that much trouble. I mean, Buccaneers/Raiders as a Monday night game on ESPN looked good when that false schedule came out, but then again, the league can throw a lateral and put Buccaneers/Cowboys in primetime for the second year in a row.

But with an expanded number of primetime games to be played, don’t be surprised if you see one team – perhaps two – under the lights a little more.

Why Is The NFL Playing Possum With The Schedule Release Date?

Can anybody explain why the NFL is so hush-hush about confirming the schedule release date every year? It appears that they will be doing so once again on short notice, because I was actually able to confirm that the 2012 schedule will be released this Tuesday, April 17, at 7 PM ET. A little bird at a place in Miami called Duffy's told me.

Once again, the National Football League has not given their fans advanced notice on when to expect the release of the 2012 NFL schedule.

Clearly, all signs point to the day being Tuesday, April 17, based on the release day in recent years. Such as last year, when there was still no official word “48 hours until showtime” – yet there were several clues, including a listing on ESPN2 for the “SportsCenter Schedule Release Special” beginning at 7 PM. NFL Network had their own schedule release show at that same date and time, but I do not recall a lot of promotion building up until the date of the 2011 schedule release.

Fast forward to 2012: Once again, there’s a listing for a “SportsCenter Special” this Tuesday night, but on ESPN. It was initially logged into TVGuide.com’s listings as “SportsCenter Special: NFL Schedule Release.” But that since has been updated to remove the “NFL Schedule Release” part of the title, and there’s no description of the special. And here we are once again, 48 hours until showtime, and there is still no official word from the NFL confirming the 2012 schedule release date, and the league-run cable network still has a scroll on the bottom of the screen that reads: “Find out where and when your team will play next season. Watch the 2012 NFL Schedule Release Show, coming soon on NFL Network.”

“Soon.” The same explanation that NFL public relations whiz Greg Aiello gave Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. And mind you, this was last Tuesday.

In an attempt to get down to the bottom of this conundrum, I did some Googling and I came across an interesting search result description. It read, “Tue. Apr. 17, 2012. 5 PM – 8 PM EDT. Schedule Release Party. Join us at Duffy’s in North Miami Beach on April 17th to celebrate the release of the 2012 NFL schedule.”

Please do yourself a favor and just click on this Google search equation. You’ll find that there are several references to the aforementioned “schedule release party” on pages belonging to the official website of… the Miami Dolphins… which, last I checked, is a team in the NFL.

Yet, when you go to the Dolphins’ actual website, you will find nary a reference to this schedule release party happening at Duffy’s this Tuesday. Was it canceled? Or perhaps an intern with keen scheduling habits posted the information a little too soon?

There was only one way for me to find out for sure: I called Duffy’s.

I first spoke to a waitress who, when asked if there were any events scheduled for Tuesday, she was not aware. After explaining that I found a promo for a schedule release party at that location on Tuesday, she placed me on hold for a minute. Continuing my call would be a woman who identified herself as Yaya, presumably a manager at the North Miami Beach Duffy’s location (the first woman I spoke to offered to connect me with the manager, and since the manager of the North Miami Beach location is listed on their website as Frans Kobus, Yaya might be an assistant manager – either that, or they need to update their website). Anyway, within seconds of taking my call, Yaya was anxious to inform me that there will be a schedule release party at Duffy’s on Tuesday night, complete with appearances from Dolphins cheerleaders, and possibly Dolphins players, as well – but the start time won’t be 5 PM – it will be 7 PM.

I repeat: I got an employee from a restaurant endorsed by an NFL franchise to confirm the schedule release date, before the actual league itself confirmed it for everybody else.

Which begs the obvious question: Why must the NFL be so coy in leading fans on to the official schedule release date? Does the league really need all of that time to “make up mock schedules to test the full schedule,” as Aiello had explained? I mean, we know for months when the NFL Draft is scheduled, and that’s considered a big deal. Since you’re able to get tickets to attend the event live in New York, it certainly would bode well to know what the date is ahead of time and have your schedule cleared.

Like the annual draft, the annual schedule release is also considered by some to be a big deal.

But what about establishments that hold schedule release parties? Like Duffy’s? For the NFL to all but wait until 24 hours until confirming the schedule release date, anyone who wants to attend schedule release parties would certainly have to do so on short notice. They may have already committed to alternate plans on Tuesday night, and thus would not be able to learn along with other Dolphins fans who their first opponent will be in the 2012-13 season.

And that doesn’t only hurt fans – that hurts eateries and drinkeries that depend on fans’ patronage. Like Duffy’s.

So, there you have it. Mark your calendar. Set your DVR. The 2012 NFL schedule will be released on Tuesday night at 7 PM ET.

And if you’re in the Miami area, why not swing by Duffy’s.

Tell ’em Diamond Joe sent you.

There Will Be No Tebow Time To Kickoff The 2012-13 Season On NBC

We won't know until April at the latest when the next installment of the budding rivalry between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow will take place. And while the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, there's still a good chance that they can open their season with the Broncos on NBC.

Regardless of the Broncos’ exit from the 2011-12 NFL playoffs, Tim Tebow has been a force to be reckoned with.

That was evident back in late December, when CBS and NBC fought tooth and nail (actually, “nail” may not be the best term to use when you’re writing about Tim Tebow) over who would air a regular season Broncos/Patriots matchup.

Even after the Patriots sent the Broncos packing in the playoffs, CBS expressed interest in having Tebow on their “NFL Today” pre-AFC Championship Game edition (he respectfully declined).

Then there’s the Super Bowl – and no, I’m not talking about the week leading up to it (though there is a mind-blowing update on that). How, you ask, could Tebow be a factor in the Super Bowl, which aired on NBC?

It has to do with who the eventual winner would be hosting on the Thursday following Labor Day – which will air on NBC.

And it’s all contingent on which team prevailed, based on their schedules.

On January 2, right after the conclusion of the regular season, the NFL released each team’s lists of opponents for the season ahead, home and away, based on records, but not the actual schedules – that will happen in April on a date to be determined.

Looking at the Broncos’ schedule, aside from the usual AFC West suspects, four of the other five teams they are scheduled to play on the road made the playoffs this year – Atlanta and Cincinnati, both Wild Card round exits, and both teams that just happened to play in this year’s AFC Championship Game, New England and Baltimore.

Indeed, the NFC division that Denver plays this year is the NFC South, including a home game against the Saints. Which means they would not play the Giants next year, especially on “kickoff” night, should the Giants win the Super Bowl – which they did.

So in order for NBC to start the 2012-13 season with some “Tebow Time,” they would have to be pulling for the Patriots to prevail – which they did not.

Granted, NBC might be happier that the Giants won: their home opponents for the 2012-13 season include New Orleans and Green Bay. Given how the Giants eliminated the Packers en route to their fourth Lombardi trophy, combined with the Saints traveling to Green Bay for the previous season’s Thursday night “kickoff” game, all signs point to the Packers opening the season in New Jersey on September 6.

But it will be a virtual lock that NBC ends up with at least one regular season Broncos game next season. The Broncos games that may likely be scheduled for primetime starts are home games against New Orleans and San Diego, as well as Pittsburgh, whom the Broncos eliminated in this year’s playoffs, and road contests at San Diego, Baltimore and New England.

You have to wonder if Robert Kraft is calling dibs on CBS’ behalf for the Patriots/Broncos game a second straight year.

But it would only be fair if the NFL scheduled that game on a Sunday night on NBC. Especially given CBS aired the previous two go-rounds, including a Saturday night playoff game.

It would only be fair if the Broncos’ third matchup with the Patriots in just the fifteenth game of the Tim Tebow era, was the marquee matinee for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” franchise for the 2012-13 season.

You would think CBS wouldn’t mind: with commitments to U.S. Open Tennis, FOX traditionally has a doubleheader in Week 1, anyway.

Perhaps the league can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes and schedule the game on ESPN or even their own NFL Network. But such a matchup with tremendous appeal is just too big for cable.

It’ll be interesting to learn where the Denver at New England game ends up in two months (or perhaps sooner; the league has been known to release schedule details for a handful of juicy matchups a few weeks prior to the release of the full schedule).

But make no mistake: NBC will get their share of Tebow Time yet.

Even if it doesn’t “kickoff” the new football season.

Just 212 days left.

SOPA-king Slick: Tom Brady Admits To Watching Illegal Internet Stream Of Super Bowl

Just days before playing in his fifth Super Bowl, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady confessed to watching last year's big game outside the United States by way of "an illegal Super Bowl website." Contrary to his body language in this photo, such actions are not good.

A popular football player has admitted to a crime.

No, O.J. Simpson did not confess to the murders of his ex-wife and her friend. But this could rank right up there.

Earlier today, Tom Brady was telling the media in Indianapolis how he ended up back in the Super Bowl, and in recounting some of the events from the Patriots offseason in 2011, he let this slip:

“Last year, I was rehabbing my foot in Costa Rica watching the game on an illegal Super Bowl website and now I’m actually playing in the game, so it’s pretty cool.”

You read right: The three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback who, combined with his supermodel wife’s payroll, may have all the money in the world to hire every previous Patriots starting quarterback from Babe Parilli to Drew Bledsoe to be his personal servants, decided not to pursue a legal feed of Super Bowl XLV (in which the Packers defeated the Steelers) – let alone buy a Slingbox – and proceeded to watch an unauthorized stream of the big game.

Gee, Tom, what are you going to do for an encore? Engage in retransmissions of your first three Super Bowls without expressed written consent from the NFL?

By the way – the NFL supports that SOPA thing you’ve been hearing about in recent weeks – you know, the online piracy act that turned Wikipedia dark for a full day in order to raise awareness of the bill’s existence? Why not just wheel Tom Brady out before one of New England’s playoff games to announce to the world that he watched a pirated Super Bowl stream? He would be the poster boy for the SOPA movement. And given the nature of the activity, it probably wouldn’t be big enough to trump his legacy, like, say, a football coach in Pennsylvania (not to compare the two, of course). But Brady would look good getting people interested in SOPA.

Not a moment too soon, the U.S. Department of Justice is once again cracking down on pirate sports stream websites, and they’ll be confiscatin’ ass and takin’ names now more than ever before – never mind the fact that the Super Bowl will be streamed online – and legally, at that – for the first time this year.

With Tom Brady’s team just happening to punch their ticket to this year’s Super Bowl.

Maybe that’s why he nonchalantly let loose that he watched last year’s Super Bowl online illegally – to raise awareness for the new legal Super Bowl stream.

And while the aforementioned O.J. Simpson probably can’t get access to even a legal Super Bowl stream this year, given where he’s currently located, he did watch his share of pirated satellite television back in the day.