NFL Changes Late Game Start Times to 4:25 p.m. ET

PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 23: Casey Hampton #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs onto the field prior to their 2011 AFC Championship game against the New York Jets at Heinz Field on January 23 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The only particularly interesting takeaway from the NFL's recent decision to move kickoff times of the "late" games (as opposed to "early" and "primetime") from 4:15 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET is why they didn't do it sooner.

As Dan Gigler of the Post-Gazette wrote, "According to an NFL release, the later kickoff time will reduce the likelihood of fans missing the finish of a 1 p.m. telecast because TV contract rules require the networks to broadcast the opening kickoff of every home-market team's late-afternoon games."

Obviously this differs from market to market, but Steelers fans in a non-primary or secondary Steelers market are at the mercy of a local team playing at 1 p.m., and that game going into overtime. The other channel (in this example, CBS) cannot air the late game until the early game is over.

So yeah, in that case, why not bump the time back a few minutes? Granted, it makes the league appear to be run more on the schedule of Amtrak, but of the three, it's the most flexible time slot.

Another 10 minutes can be torturous, because it gives talking heads another 10 minutes to Sports Shout about whatever the latest trendy topic is, but if it means those of us in non-primary Steelers markets (particularly those of us in the primary markets of AFC teams, like Denver or Kansas City) don't have to miss kickoff, then I'm all for it.

The Steelers have five games affected by this: Their home-opener (Week 2 Sept. 16) vs. the Jets, Week 3 (Sept. 23) at Oakland, Week 9 (Nov. 4) at the Giants, Week 13 (Dec. 2) at Baltimore and Week 15 (Dec. 16) at Dallas.


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