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The popularity of the NFL's annual schedule release shows the league still occupies the top spot in your heart

You still love all things NFL, including its annual schedule unveiling.

NFL: Preaseason-Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL says “NFL Schedule Release Extravaganza!” and you say, “How high?”

At least that’s how it felt last Thursday evening, when my brother texted me this:

"Hey what are you up to today? Just a few hrs left to see who the steelers play and when this year."

The lower-case steelers my brother was referring to were the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose 2018 regular season schedule, like the rest of the NFL’s, was made public on Thursday evening in a TV spectacle that might as well have culminated in a fireworks display.

Speaking of my brother, I don’t know who his sources were (I’m guessing the Internet), but hours before the schedule was even released, he sent me another text:

”I’m getting bits and pieces of the steelers new schedule we play the jags in week 11 Sunday night the Pats dec. 16 4:30 and Tampa Bay Monday night football at Tampa. That’s all I know so far.”

I then sent a smart-ass text that went like this (if you’ve seen my smart-ass articles, this will seem familiar to you): “What? Godell is screwing them. They’re playing teams in places at times!”

Anyway, hours later, while sitting at a bar with a friend, I was watching as all 32 schedules were unveiled on a huge, flat-screen TV (or three).

There may have been playoff games showing on other TV screens, but I don’t remember.

I was fixated on the Steelers upcoming schedule, a schedule that, sort of like a new dining room table, came to me in a giant box shortly after the season, then sat in my garage for a few months until the league could get around to assembling it.

But unlike your average do-it-yourselfer, the NFL’s delay had nothing to do with procrastination. No, if there’s one thing the league is very good at, it’s keeping us interested in its product 365 days a year.

Why release the schedule in January, when you can turn it into a TV event three months down the road that steals eyes away from the NHL and NBA playoffs?

Just how big is something like the NFL’s annual schedule reveal? So big, ESPN even published a Winners and Losersarticle about it. Question: Are the “losers” still eligible to win their games when they actually take part in their rotten schedules next season?

Actually, that wasn’t a serious question, but you might be happy to know ESPN declared the Steelers scheduling “winners” for reasons that went directly against the opinions of many of the BTSC readers who responded to Jeff Hartman’s April 20 articleabout not speaking in absolutes about the 2018 schedule by speaking in absolutes about the 2018 schedule--mostly in a negative sense.

That’s right, the Steelers, who finished 13-3 and benefited from a lot of good injury karma in 2017, will absolutely not benefit from that same kind of karma in 2018, and this will absolutely result in a .500 record--nevermind that, in a totally unrelated article about JuJu Smith-Schuster, many of those same BTSC readers were confident the Steelers top three receivers will surpass or flirt with 1,000 yards next season.

But I digress.

It is refreshing to see a healthy amount of people invested in NFL topics that don’t include actual football right now, especially after so many fans spent the 2017 season declaring they were done with NFL topics that included actual football--like games that were being played right in front of their eyes.

What that tells me is the NFL is alive and well.

Stay tuned in June for my annual article about the NFL Draft dwarfing the Stanley Cup Final in the ratings department.