The drama between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers not only caused anxiety and stress for fans across the NFL, but the league’s schedule makers had their work cut out for them as well.
The NFL released the 2021 schedule last week, and the Packers were handed five primetime games over the course of the season, even though there still is a chance that the league’s reigning MVP may suit up in a different uniform come September.
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Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting, recently caught up with NBC Sports’ Peter King, and he admitted that Rodgers and the Packers had them “a little nervous” which led to him making a few calls to gain some clarity on the situation.
NFL fans understand that the Packers won’t be as interesting if Rodgers is no longer a part of the team when the season rolls around, however, the schedule-makers had no choice but to work with what they had.
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“The Green Bay Packers are still the Green Bay Packers, with or without Aaron Rodgers,” Katz told NBC Sports. “They’re a great team and a great brand. We started to think about some of the permutations of the schedule. Ultimately, when he didn’t get traded, we couldn’t solve for something we didn’t know.
“It was pretty deliberate the way we maxed out the Packers early in the season. You’re right that each of the networks has their bite at the Packers in the first month. That was deliberate.”
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Out of the five primetime games, three will be on NBC – two later in the season when the playoff races tighten. The Packers will take on the Chicago Bears in Week 14, and the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17. Both games are late enough in the season that they can be “flexed out” – i.e. replaced by another match-up – if the Packers aren’t relevant.
Green Bay will face the Arizona Cardinals in a Week 8 matchup on “Thursday Night Football” streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The second week of the season will have the Packers meet up with the Detroit Lions on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” A week later, they will square off against the San Francisco 49ers on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”