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.

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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.

Cowboys/Redskins An Early Favorite For "Sunday Night Football" In Week 17 (Update: It's Official)

The rematch of Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins’ Thanksgiving Day victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 could be flexed into primetime on NBC. It would be the second straight year that an NFC East showdown in the final week of the regular season would be rescheduled to “Sunday Night Football.”

It’s hard to believe just two more weeks of the NFL regular season remain.

And that means we draw ever closer to the inevitable – okay, besides going to the mall to return that unwanted sweater you got for Christmas. Week 17, which for the third season in a row under Commissioner Roger Goodell, will consist entirely of matchups between division rivals – with the one possessing the greatest impact on the playoff picture being flexed into primetime on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” In Week 17 in 2010, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the St. Louis Rams, and in the final week of the regular season last year, the New York Giants eliminated the Dallas Cowboys; both of these teams would win subsequent playoff games televised on NBC (the Seahawks in the Wild Card round, and the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI).

The divisions represented by these teams have a great shot at making their second appearance on “SNF” in Week 17 under the new format.

First, let’s eliminate the divisions where the leaders are so far ahead, it should not make much of a difference what they do in Week 17: AFC East (New England Patriots); AFC South (Houston Texans); AFC West (Denver Broncos); and NFC South (New Orleans Saints).

True, a first-round playoff bye may be on the line between the Patriots, Texans and Broncos, but consider this: the Patriots are hosting the Miami Dolphins, and they’ve been so dominant at home in primetime, and in primetime in general this season (need we remind you what they did in New Jersey on Thanksgiving night?) that the chances of the game being out of reach early are high. Also, the Texans hosted the Indianapolis Colts today for what will be a home-and-home over a 15-day period, and had the Colts upset the Texans in Houston, the Week 17 rematch might have been a shoo-in for primetime, but the Texans win pretty much puts a cushion betweem the two teams; of course, if the Colts find themselves in a “win and you’re in” scenario, it’s still possible that Andrew Luck might bring the Colts back to “SNF” for the first time in the post-Peyton Manning era. And as for Manning’s current team, the Broncos, well, they’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs, who are not only execrable this season, but are 0-3 on NBC in the Fred Gaudelli era. Nuff said.

The NFC North also appears to be all but conquered by the Green Bay Packers, but the team they face in Week 17 is the Minnesota Vikings – a team that’s nipping at the Packers’ heels in the division, and has a running back in Adrian Peterson who’s on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, and he needs just shy of 300 yards in two games to do it. But the Vikings’ next opponent, the Houston Texans, has a stingy run defense, so it’s too soon to determine what happens with the Packers/Vikings game until Peterson plays another sixty minutes. Remember, the league reconfigured the Week 17 Sunday night game to feature teams that are playing a game that will essentially name the winner of that division. Of course, when given the choice between watching a dynamic athlete break a record that has stood for nearly three decades, or a Rams/Seahawks game, I think the answer is easy. So based on the potential of history being made, with one of the biggest names in the game, I wouldn’t rule this one out yet, even if the Packers have long clinched the NFC North. Stay tuned.

So, we’re down to three divisions, and we’ll start with the AFC North. You have the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have made the fifth-most appearances on NBC since 2006 with fifteen, hosting the Cleveland Browns, and you have the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Baltimore Ravens, who have won six out of their nine appearances on NBC’s air. By the way, since 2006, Ohio has been 0-for-6 on NBC, including five Bengals games, two of them in the postseason. Realizing the Bengals’ dubious record on NBC, coupled with their penchant for having games blacked out due to low ticket sales, plus add to the mix the fact that they’re hosting the Ravens, who have abruptly switched offensive coordinators and have already lost their first game under their new one, the prospect of putting that game in primetime probably isn’t making the league and NBC suits’ mouths water. Nor is the possibility of a Steelers team playing the cellar-dwelling Browns. So in my view, you won’t be seeing the Steelers make their fourth “SNF” appearance of the season, nor a Ravens trifecta on NBC this year. But as always, I could be wrong.

Anyway, that leaves two divisions in the NFC where the top spot is up for grabs. First, the NFC West situation: the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks are fighting for first place. But keep in mind that the 49ers will be playing two Sunday night games in a row, including one that’s been flexed into primetime in Week 16 – and that game is in Seattle. Fast forward to Week 17, and you’ve got the Seahawks hosting the Rams, and the 49ers hosting the Cardinals. Given how bad the Cardinals have been since October (oh, they beat the Lions by four touchdowns after losing by nearly sixty points the previous week – big whoop), you can count out the latter matchup, and the possibility of a team appearing on “SNF” for three consecutive weeks. Which means that for the second time in three weeks, a Rams/Seahawks game in Seattle in Week 17 could be moved into primetime. The Rams, despite being a shade under .500, are amazingly undefeated (4-0-1) against opponents in the division. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are undefeated at home, and depending on how the 49ers fare in Centurylink Field on “SNF” in Week 16, the NFC West division may as well be decided in primetime that week.

And that leaves the NFC East, a division where three out of its four teams have made the most appearances on NBC since 2006 – most recently a matchup between two teams both under .500, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 17, both of these teams will be on the road: the Eagles at the New York Giants, and the Cowboys at the Washington Redskins. This division is literally a three-team race going down the stretch, but only one thing matters: the RG3 factor. Robert Griffin III is having an outstanding rookie campaign – yet he only has one primetime game to show for it (in Week 13 vs. the Giants on “Monday Night Football” on ESPN). Of course, there was the game on Thanksgiving Day that gave Griffin his first national exposure – in Jerry World, a game in which he led the Redskins to four touchdowns in the first half.

The Redskins, 2-0 in these games, currently share a lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys, well, they haven’t made the most appearances on “Sunday Night Football” for nothing (the Eagles/Cowboys tilt back in Week 13 was their twenty-first).

Regardless of the results of the Week 16 games between the Giants and the Ravens, the Cowboys and the Saints, and the Eagles and the Redskins, I am confident that the Cowboys/Redskins rematch in Week 17 will be flexed into primetime.

An equation of “America’s Team” and RG3 (provided he’s healthy) with the division on the line adds up to an enticing matchup.

So if you’re going to that game on December 30, I’d reschedule my plans for that evening if I were you.

UPDATE, 12.18.12: WIP Radio in Philadelphia reported today that the Cowboys/Redskins game on December 30 has been moved to a start time of… 4:25 PM. There’s nothing to back this up, I was just going by what I heard on the radio. Halfway to primetime. But it’s still a candidate to be moved to “Sunday Night Football”: based on how teams with their own playoff implications on the line perform in Week 16, the league will obviously move a game with “win or go home” potential into primetime. Or if the NFC East, NFC West and AFC North are suddenly all decided, and Adrian Peterson runs for over 150 yards against the Texans, the Vikings’ (regular?) season finale against the Packers could see itself being moved to NBC, as I speculated earlier – but of course, that’s a huge longshot as long as the NFC East, at the very least, has not been decided by Christmas.

So the Cowboys/Redskins game won’t be starting at 1 PM. That much, I was right about. And now the NFL is delaying the inevitable – which, by the way, will officially be announced on Monday.

UPDATE, 12.23.12, 11:39 PM ET: And now, it’s official: With the Redskins winning and the Cowboys and Giants losing, the rematch between the Redskins and the Cowboys in Week 17 will, as projected, be flexed into Sunday night on NBC. The news was announced during the Week 16 presentation of “Sunday Night Football.” This will be the first time since Week 7 in 2010 that the Redskins were featured on “Sunday Night Football.” Since that matchup with the Colts, there have been fifteen games on NBC (sixteen if you count the Super Bowl) in which there was at least one NFC East team – eight of them games between two NFC East teams. So it’s safe to say the Redskins are long overdue.

Iwo No, They Didn't! CSN/Washington Gives RGIII A Hero's Welcome

Comcast SportsNet Washington is running a promo welcoming Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III "home." What's wrong with this picture? Some consider it "tasteless" since it started running right before Memorial Day.

If you thought the most sensational regional sports network promotion involving a quarterback would be coming out of New York (think Tebow), think again.

Just in time for Memorial Day, Comcast SportsNet Washington started airing a station ID praising the town’s new savior under center, Robert Griffin III, the player that the Redskins traded up four spots in the NFL Draft top ten to select.

There’s no video of it on YouTube, but it’s moot because it’s a very brief promo, and the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg has provided the three vital screengrabs from the ID.

Yet it’s the third and final still that may give you chills.

Behind the Iwo Jima Memorial are the words “Welcome Home RGIII” attached to the Comcast SportsNet logo, with a giant Redskins logo serving as the backdrop.

Mind you, RGIII has yet to even take a snap in an official NFL game. And the network is already likening him to a major historical figure – as if he’d won the Super Bowl.

Look, this kid might be the real deal, but it’s a little too early to start superimposing him over Washington landmarks – and in the case of the Iwo Jima composite, it would probably be in the best interest of CSN not to desecrate it with “Welcome Home RGIII.”

Especially since he wasn’t even born on American soil: his parents Jacqueline and Robert Jr., both Army Sergeants, were stationed in Japan in 1990 when Robert III was born.

Later, the family relocated to Fort Lewis in Washington – no, not Washington, D.C., but Tacoma, Washington.

Yes, he lived in the “other” Washington in the past. And now, a Washington, D.C. regional sports network is welcoming him “home” through the imagery of Iwo Jima.

Give me a break.

Dave Hughes of DCRTV.com shared the photo on Facebook and wondered, “Is there just something a bit tasteless, as we approach Memorial Day, with a promo for a highly paid pro football star that uses images of soldiers who died for our freedom?”

“I agree, that imagery’s a little much,” read one response to Hughes’ question, while another lamented, “Enough of us pledging allegiance to some dope who carries around a ball.”

Granted, CSN isn’t the first party – and sadly, probably won’t be the last – to doctor the Iwo Jima image for their own causes. Most recently, The Daily Show altered the statue for a proposed Occupy Wall Street monument, port-a-potty and all.

Okay. Even if the Redskins signed Najeh Davenport, I doubt that CSN would go there.

But it’s a bit foolish to update the look of any war memorial for the benefit of a second-overall draft pick from Baylor. Especially with Memorial Day around the corner.

Bad concept. Bad timing. Everything about the idea is bad.

And should Robert Griffin III get run out of his “home,” that would really look bad.

Third Time's A Charm: Giants, Cowboys To Kickoff 2012 NFL Season, Play Third NBC Game In Nine Months

The NFL has announced that the Dallas Cowboys will square off against the New York Giants in the 2012 season "kickoff game" on Wednesday, September 5. This will be the third time in a row that these teams will be playing on NBC, and the third year in a row that the Cowboys will open their season on NBC.

A month ago, we told you that the 2012 NFL season would be kicking off on a Wednesday night. And, of course, it would involve the world champion New York Giants.

Now, we know who the first opponent in the Giants’ defense of their 2011-12 championship will be. It’s a familiar one. And it is a division rival.

But it won’t be the Washington Redskins, who opened their season with the Giants for the previous two seasons.

Instead, it’ll be the Dallas Cowboys. That’s right: for an unprecedented third time in a row, the Giants and Cowboys will be playing a regular season game on NBC. Their first regular season matchup of 2011 was not until Week 14, with their Week 17 contest flexed into “Sunday Night Football” given the “win and you’re in” factor of the game.

And now, these teams will be playing the first NFL game to be played on a Wednesday night in 64 years.

So it shall be the Giants opening the 2012 season against a team they swept last year (Cowboys), as opposed to the Redskins, who despite their 6-10 record, managed to win both games against the Giants in 2011.

No matter how much apathy you might exhibit at this decision (and there’s been quite a few on my own Twitter timeline after the announcement was first made), it was the right decision.

Considering the Redskins were players (albeit not favorites, but on the radar) in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, had the former Colts quarterback headed to the Nation’s Capital, you can bet that it would be the Redskins, and not the Cowboys, opening the 2012 season, for the simple fact that it would be Peyton, barring a setback in his neck surgery recovery, against his little brother Eli, who has now won twice as many Super Bowls as his older brother. Of course, playing against his brother was a factor in Peyton choosing to stay in the AFC, and joining the Broncos.

And while Robert Griffin III, expected to be drafted by the Redskins, is as dynamic as the scouts say he is, he probably wouldn’t generate as much ratings gold as Tony Romo and company would deliver when they clash with the G-Men, as evidenced by their January 1 “playoffs or bust” showdown.

As for the Cowboys on NBC, the magic number is 3: Not only will this be the third consecutive time their game against the Giants will be shown on the Peacock Network, but it’s the third year in a row that the Cowboys have opened their season with a game on NBC. They hosted the Redskins on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 1 in 2010, and traveled to the Meadowlands to face the Jets in Week 1 last year. The Cowboys would lose both of those games.

And the odds don’t appear to be in the Cowboys’ favor for this year’s opener: The Super Bowl champion is a perfect 8-0 in the season “kickoff game” dating back to 2004. Throw in the Redskins’ win over the Jets in 2003, and you have nine years in a row that the home team won the “kickoff game.” (The lone road win was in 2002 by the 49ers; the team on the losing end of that one just happened to be the Giants.)

Also, as Inside Football’s Patricia Traina reminds us, the Giants have an astounding 5-1 record on games played on Wednesdays, including a perfect 2-0 in season openers played on “hump day.” (Note that these games were played way back in the mid-’20’s and early ’30’s.) This will be the first Wednesday game for the Giants in 78 years. (Efforting to get the last time, if at all, the Cowboys played a Wednesday game…)

The rest of the NFL schedule is slated to be released in the third week of April, possibly April 18 – though prior to, the league may share the matchups for certain games such as the trio to be played on Thanksgiving – the night game to be played for the first time on NBC.

But not before the first Wednesday NFL game since the merger is to be played on NBC.

Rams, Redskins, RG3 and… Rush?

The Washington Redskins traded four draft picks to the St. Louis Rams, in the hopes of drafting Robert Griffin III. But what if talk show host and former ESPN commentator Rush Limbaugh had been a part-owner of the Rams, as he had aspired to be back in 2009? With the recent Sandra Fluke controversy, would any teams have even fathomed a deal with the Rams?

Over the weekend, the Washington Redskins have agreed to a trade with the St. Louis Rams, giving them this year’s second overall pick in the NFL Draft, in exchange for their sixth and 39th overall picks in this year’s draft, plus their first-round draft picks in the next two years. With the deal, the Redskins effectively opt-out of the “Peyton Manning sweepstakes”, as the franchise has their sights set on Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III – provided the Indianapolis Colts don’t call an audible and grab Griffin themselves with the first overall draft pick, which the team is likely using for Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, who would effectively replace Manning after fourteen seasons with the Colts.

The Redskins’ trade with the Rams, on paper, appears to be a coup for both teams: St. Louis, who had already drafted a quarterback two years ago in Sam Bradford, sensed that with two quarterbacks – Luck and Griffin, possibly in that order – projected to be drafted with the first two picks, they felt it was best to trade their pick away to a team that would best benefit from the services of “RG3”, while the Rams used the draft picks they would receive from said team to continue the rebuilding process.

And in “RG3,” the Redskins seem to have found the franchise quarterback they have needed since Joe Theismann took over under center in 1978, just as the league’s regular season tally expanded from 14 games to 16.

But imagine for a moment that this blockbuster trade may have never come into fruition. That’s right: there might have been a possibility that the Redskins, or any of the other NFL teams, for that matter, may have wished not to do business with the Rams for their second-overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. All because of one man who had expressed interest in part-ownership of the franchise some two-and-a-half years ago: conservative talk radio titan Rush Limbaugh.

Georgia Frontiere, previous owner of the Rams, died in early 2008 due to complications from breast cancer. It was under her watch that the franchise moved from Los Angeles to her hometown of St. Louis in 1995. Prior to the 2008 season, Limbaugh, a native of Cape Girardeau, MO, which is just over 100 miles from St. Louis, expressed his interest in owning the Rams. “My desire to get involved [with NFL ownership] has not been a secret,” Limbaugh said at the time, adding that he knows “a lot of friends” in that capacity. And despite the Rams being located not too far from where he was born and raised, Limbaugh pleaded that such a move would be strictly “a business decision.”

Limbaugh’s desire to join the ranks of NFL ownership intensified in October 2009, when he announced that he would be joining a group led by St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts, who previously had been the president and CEO of Madison Square Garden through most of the 1990’s, in a bid for ownership of the Rams. This was met with much criticism, as several negative comments about the NFL from Limbaugh were resurfaced and rehashed ad nauseum, most notably his comparison of the league to “a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons” in 2007.

Also revisited was his ill-fated stint as commentator of “Sunday NFL Countdown” on ESPN in 2003. On the September 28, 2003 edition, the “Countdown” crew had been discussing the Philadelphia Eagles, who at the time were 0-2 – outscored 48-10 in the first two games at their then-new stadium, Lincoln Financial Field – and just coming off of a bye week. In those previous two games, quarterback Donovan McNabb had thrown for zero touchdowns and three interceptions, and was sacked a whopping ten times for a combined loss of 66 yards. This led Limbaugh to say about McNabb: “I’m sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go… I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well… he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t really deserve. The defense carried the team.”

Co-commentator Tom Jackson was quick to point out that McNabb had led the Eagles to “those championship games” in the previous two seasons – they had been eliminated by the Buccaneers in 2003, and the previous year, incidentally, by the Rams, both of which had advanced to and won Super Bowls in those years. “He has been a very effective quarterback for this football team over the last two or three years,” Jackson said of McNabb, “and they didn’t have any more talent then than they do now.” Limbaugh replied: “Oh, yes, they did: on defense… I think he got a lot of credit for the defensive side of the ball winning games for this team.”

Limbaugh also assured Jackson that McNabb was “a good investment” by the Eagles, but “I just don’t think he’s as good as everybody says he has been.” Fellow commentators Steve Young and Michael Irvin were not as dismissive on Limbaugh’s view as Jackson had been. “Don’t misunderstand,” said Limbaugh.

Whether or not the quarterback had “misunderstood” Limbaugh’s comments, McNabb spoke out about them in a newspaper interview: “It’s sad that you’ve got to go to skin color. I thought we were through with that whole deal.” This led to several athletes and noted Democratic figures, including civil rights activist Al Sharpton, dismissing Limbaugh’s comments about McNabb on ESPN, and an outfit known as the National Association of Black Journalists questioning “ESPN’s credibility as a journalism entity.” This led to ESPN issuing a statement on the night of Wednesday, October 1, 2003, announcing that they had informed Limbaugh that his comments about McNabb “were insensitive and inappropriate.”

Shortly after, Limbaugh would part ways with the Worldwide Leader, resigning his post on “Sunday NFL Countdown.”

Keep in mind that the next day, October 2, 2003, he would deliver the keynote speech at the annual National Assocation of Broadcasters convention – which just happened to be based in Philadelphia that year.

Fast forward six years, and ten days, later. In the wake of Limbaugh’s inclination to be part of a group making a bid for ownership of the St. Louis Rams, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, who is African-American, voiced his opposition of Limbaugh’s involvement with NFL ownership, saying his history of controversial comments that have been made, not only about McNabb on ESPN, but on his nationally syndicated radio show with roughly 600 affiliates – Rush has made no secret that he is not a fan of current U.S. President, Barack Obama – would mar the spirit of the NFL, which “overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred.”

Much like in 2003 after Limbaugh’s viewpoint on Donovan McNabb, several athletes did not take kindly to Limbaugh’s potential part-ownership of an NFL franchise. “Our players… know that there is an ugly part of history and we will not risk going backwards, giving up, giving in or lying down to it,” said Smith in 2009. “I am proud when they stand up, understand that this is their profession, and speak with candor and blunt honesty about how they feel.” The next day, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, went on the record as saying Limbaugh’s comments, particularly about McNabb in 2003, were “divisive” and “polarizing,” and “would not want to see those comments coming from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL… Absolutely not.”

Make no mistake, Rush Limbaugh is a polarizing figure in the African-American community. It would be hard to fathom his involvement in the ownership of a team located in a city which, in 2010, roughly half of its population (49.2%) was African-American.

Shortly after Goodell voiced his displeasure in Limbaugh’s potential link to Rams ownership, Checketts had no choice but to shed Limbaugh from his ownership group. “It has become clear that his involvement in our group has become a complication and a distraction to our intentions,” Checketts said in a statement, adding that Limbaugh would have only been “a limited partner” who “would have had no say in the direction of the club or in any decisions regarding personnel or operations.” Checketts was optimistic that his group’s disassociation from Limbaugh would “eventually lead… to a successful conclusion” – that being, claiming ownership of the Rams franchise.

What appeared to be a strong desire by Checketts & Co. in the beginning of 2010 had fell by the wayside as the winter went on, and ownership of the team ultimately went to billionaire Stan Kroenke just prior to the start of the 2010-11 NFL season.

It’s clear that without Rush Limbaugh, the NFL is all the better for it.

But given the events of the last few weeks, I can’t help but wonder if: What if Rush Limbaugh was currently a part-owner of the St. Louis Rams? What if Rush Limbaugh had never been an employee of ESPN? What if Rush Limbaugh – as impossible as it may be to imagine – had never uttered a “divisive” thing about anyone or anything over the last 25 years?

It was on New Year’s Day 2012 that it was first reported on, ironically enough, ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” program, that junior quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor, just three weeks after winning the Heisman Trophy, was going to declare eligibility for the NFL Draft.

On February 24th, the Rams let it be known that they are willing to part with the second overall draft pick – for the right price. St. Louis, of course, is set at quarterback with Sam Bradford, so it’s not much of a necessity for them to draft Griffin.

The day before, on February 23rd, Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke had given testimony at a panel on Capitol Hill titled, “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” Fluke had spoken in favor of contraception being covered by health insurance plans offered by employers, including regilious institutions.

On February 29th, on his radio show, Limbaugh spoke out against Fluke’s support for a federal contraception mandate. “What does it say about the college coed… who goes before a Congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex?,” he asked his listeners. “What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.” Limbaugh further continued skewering Fluke for the remainder of the week, culminating with his March 1 show, in which he voiced a request for Fluke, in exchange for her plea for taxpayers footing the bill for contraceptives, “to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

The verbal attacks on Fluke were so brutal that she received a call from President Obama on Friday, March 2. Amid mounting criticism, Limbaugh posted an apology on his website the next day – but by then, the damage would just start to be done, as seven sponsors announced that they would pull their advertising from Limbaugh’s radio show over the weekend. Since then, the list continues to grow. Two radio stations in the “blue state” of Massachusetts and the island of Hawaii even canceled Limbaugh’s show. And just recently, a trio of women’s rights activists led by Gloria Steinem urged people to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission so that they may revoke the licenses of hundreds of radio stations that air Limbaugh’s “toxic hate speech.”

In the span of ten days, Rush Limbaugh had been under much scrutiny for his comments about Sandra Fluke, and rightly so.

Now, take that all in, and imagine if, amidst all of this controversy, he was a part-owner of the St. Louis Rams.

A St. Louis Rams team that would be openly willing to wheel and deal the second overall draft pick to other NFL teams.

There’s a good chance that the Rams would have been left at the altar.

Regardless of how talented and highly touted Robert Griffin III may be, Rush Limbaugh’s mere existence on the Rams ownership board would have been front office kryptonite, with Limbaugh’s comments about Fluke tainting such a deal before it would even be proposed.

“Well, I’m terribly sorry about Mr. Limbaugh’s comments regarding Ms. Fluke, but… RG3! Come on!”

There would have been no takers. Not even the NFL team representing Washington – where Georgetown University is located – and President Barack Obama currently resides.

It could have been the second case of Rush Limbaugh being in the wrong place at the wrong time since 2003, after he quit his gig at ESPN over controversial comments about the quarterback of Philadelphia’s NFL team – right before he was to give a speech at a broadcasting convention in Philadelphia.

Things could have been far worse: Could you picture a part-Limbaugh-owned Rams team making the draft pick megadeal with the Redskins, and then going on the radio to defame Sandra Fluke as a “prostitute” and a “slut”? The Rams, the Redskins, the entire NFL starting with Roger Goodell – they would have to spend the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft trying to remove all of the egg from their faces. Those comments clearly would have been a distraction as all 32 teams prepare for the draft, with the conversation of “Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin?” being relegated to a sideshow.

A distraction similar to the one that sprung up when Limbaugh first expressed interest in ownership of the francise.

There’s no way that anybody with a pulse can condone Rush Limbaugh’s many “divisive comments” over the years.

In the case of Rush Limbaugh, the aspiring part-owner of an NFL team, however, it’s somewhat bittersweet that he has made such comments, only in that the NFL has swiftly denied access to him joining the league’s franchise owners, because of those comments.

Such unnecessary roughness on Sandra Fluke may have resulted from him being banned from the league.

One more serving of food for thought: Would Rush Limbaugh have made those comments about Sandra Fluke, comments that the average woman took offense to, if he had been part-owner of the St. Louis Rams, continuing a legacy of franchise ownership previously upheld by… a woman?

If Georgia Frontiere heard some of the things Rush Limbaugh has said, whether he owned the Rams or not, she might roll over in her grave.