Here’s a bit of NFL trivia that pre-dates most viewers, unless they were born prior to 1970: games did not use to always start in two discreet broadcast windows on Sunday. There were numerous games that would start at 2 pm eastern time, especially for teams in the central time zone, and yes, for Denver. For example, week 2 of the 1980 NFL season featured only three games starting at 1 pm, four more that started at 2 pm, and five that kicked off at 4 pm. That ended largely after the 1981 season, with the exception of Baltimore. The Colts continued to play their home games with a 2 pm local start time, until they departed in the middle of the night for Indianapolis after the 1983 season, and that ended that.
The growth and money involved in TV broadcasts dictated moving to more standardized times. But I’m gonna float a crazy idea inspired by that old history: the NFL should have a specialty weekend, sometime in the middle of the year when they are looking for a hook, where they stagger start times and have a full day of wall-to-wall football with kickoffs and finishes. It can’t be worse than having Color Rush uniforms.
Yes, there would be a lot to work out. The networks, who rotate who gets the late afternoon window, would have to both agree to split it one weekend. They would have to agree on having local market kickoff times in the middle of other games. But the product would be amazing for general fans of the NFL, and be a major boon to the Sunday Ticket and Red Zone.
Here’s an example of what you might get (using the week 9 schedule this year, all kickoffs ET):
New York Jets at Miami (12 pm)
Chicago at Buffalo (12:30 pm)
Tampa Bay at Carolina (1 pm)
Atlanta at Washington (1:30 pm)
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (2 pm)
Kansas City at Cleveland (2:30 pm)
Detroit at Minnesota (3 pm)
Houston at Denver (3:30 pm)
LA Rams at New Orleans (4 pm)
LA Chargers at Seattle (4:30 pm)
Yeah, you could not do this every week, but it would be an amazing day of football that would bring some excitement. You would have games staggered and ending from mid-afternoon until night. The local markets could show their team game, and those that didn’t have a local team could show any game they want, with cut-ins for the game finish of others on the network. The Red Zone Channel would be even more bonkers than it already is.