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Why the NFL didn’t cut extra week before the Super Bowl to resolve schedule issue

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When the NFL postponed the Week 17 BillsBengals “Monday Night Football” game after Damar Hamlin collapsed, many voices proposed a seemingly easy solution: push the entire playoff schedule back every week and resume the sport in what would have been wild-card weekend, which might move back every week.

This might have been feasible because like every Super Bowl since 2003, and most before, a two-week window is scheduled between the Sunday of the conference title games and the last word contest. So it seemed basic to slice off considered one of those two weeks, complete the Week 17 game, and avoid the complicated changes to seeding the NFL adopted after canceling the MNF game altogether.

However the NFL never seriously contemplated shrinking the free time before the Super Bowl due to the enormous logistical challenges involved. The 2-week spacing was once created to hype a recent championship, but because the Super Bowl grew, so did the event’s organizational needs.



The Super Bowl Experience is considered one of the events held on the host site within the two weeks leading as much as the sport, giving fans interactive NFL activities and experiences. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Asked about the advantage of a two-week window, Frank Supovitz, who ran events on the NFL between 2005 and 2014, emailed, “Getting tickets from the league to the teams to the top user sponsors, fans, team and player guests, etc. (though they’re digital now), who then should arrange for air travel; getting them into the hotel rooms on hold. All of the team graphics within the stadium, on street banners, etc., that could be unimaginable to customize by the point people arrive. And all of the football details like getting end zones painted — it’s already a scramble to get (it) all done in lower than two weeks; getting it done in lower than one for an event the dimensions of Super Bowl could be an enormous lift.”

With just one week, the 4 teams competing within the title games wouldn’t know whether or not they were heading home after a loss or flying to the Super Bowl host city immediately after the sport. Super Bowl teams today can bring hundreds of individuals, like a club’s entire staff and their families. That may be all but unimaginable on such an abbreviated turnaround.

Jim Steeg, who oversaw events on the NFL before Supovitz, recalled the Giants’ winning the 1991 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco and taking a charter that night to Tampa for the Super Bowl, getting in at 4 a.m. Monday. That was a yr with a one-week gap since the schedule had expanded from 16 to 17 weeks. The logistics of tickets, hotel rooms and such were explained midflight through a closed-circuit broadcast compiled by team general manager George Young, who had executed the planning in case the underdog Giants moved on.

“It’s been done,” Steeg said of the fast turnaround, “but it surely’s very difficult.”

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Potential Chiefs-Bills AFC title game to be played in Atlanta

The 2-week gap dates to the primary Super Bowl in 1967 (it didn’t have that moniker until 1969, the primary two were called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game). Then-commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted the teams to are available for a minimum of every week before the sport to advertise the fledgling title contest, played in Los Angeles. That first Super Bowl holds the excellence of being the just one to not sell out. Nearly 62,000 fans attended within the 93,000-seat L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi balked on the request to are available early, Steeg said, after which mistakenly said he would only achieve this provided that the team could stay at Hyatt Rickeys, a famed hotel. The one problem: The hotel, demolished in 2005, was in Palo Alto, Steeg said laughing in telling the story. Lombardi relented and the team stayed in Santa Barbara, 100 miles northwest of L.A., and simply romped to win that first Super Bowl.

“In the event you return to the deep history, Rozelle wanted it because he wanted it to be extra hype between the games that were happening,” Steeg said. “And he considered getting the 2 teams there to advertise the sport. It was necessary. Keep in mind that, you recognize, that game didn’t sell out. So that you needed to have something occurring there to create publicity around it to purchase tickets. And so, originally, I believe he wanted the additional week to give you the chance to advertise the sport after which it just stayed that way without end and to where the teams needed to are available, were required to get there by Monday.”

The Super Bowl quickly gained in popularity, negating the necessity for an additional week to sell tickets. But the additional week stayed, except often in years with a labor disturbance, an expanded schedule or a national crisis, like 9/11 when the second week of the season was postponed. Over the course of the Super Bowl’s history — the 57th one is scheduled for Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz. — only seven times did the spacing between the conference title games and the championship eat only every week (1970, 1983, 1991, 1994, 2000, 2002 and 2003).

One other think about the two-week gap is the move of the Pro Bowl from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before, which occurred in 2010. And the NFL this yr has planned every week of events in Las Vegas topped off with the first-ever Pro Bowl played as a flag football event. The NFL is heavily hyping flag football and so wouldn’t have wished to see the Pro Bowl platform scrubbed due to a playoff schedule scramble.

The additional week also gives brands and celebrities more time to hawk products and events surrounding the Super Bowl, which is way over only a game. It’s days of parties, sponsor events, business meetings, fan zones, and countless influencer pitches for things they’re paid great amounts to endorse. It’s all a part of the business and entertainment scrum that’s the Super Bowl, so shaving every week off the carnival was at all times a non-starter.

(Top photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images)

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