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Tom Brady is arguably the biggest draw in the NFL.
So when he retired then unretired this offseason, he wreaked havoc for the league — and its schedule-makers. A Tampa Bay Buccaneers team with, say, Blaine Gabbert at quarterback isn't much of a TV draw. But a Bucs team again featuring Brady under center — now we're talking primetime.
The folks who spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and processing power making a football schedule spoke with the Los Angeles Times about the process that makes it come together. It includes numerous drafts and redrafts with the aid of thousands of computers and input from teams and stadium managers.
Thanks to Brady, their job was made that much more complicated this year. Take it from Howard Katz, the NFL's senior vice president of broadcasting who spoke with the Times about the impact of Brady's indecision.
“When Tom Brady retired, we were concerned about the strength of the NFC package because there were so many terrific Tampa Bay games we were looking at,” Katz said. “Then a month later he unretires and we sort of started all over again.”
That doesn't sound like fun. But it's certainly a problem the NFL is happy to have. Brady back is infinitely better for the NFL than Brady on the couch. And the Bucs schedule in 2022 will be loaded with premium matchups including games against the Rams, Chiefs, Bengals, Packers, Ravens and Cowboys. Those matchups promise to be provided premium time slots if not all in primetime.
The full NFL schedule will be released on Thursday in one of the most ridiculous days on the sports calendar. The NFL has successfully ginned up the schedule release into an annual holiday for football fans even though we've all known who's playing whom since the end of the previous season. The only news arriving on Thursday involves time slots and TV networks.
But fans will eat it up. And Bucs fans will certainly be pleased to see that they'll have plenty of primetime matchups to plan for.