The NFL will kick off a day early this fall to avoid competing against President Barack Obama’s planned prime-time address at the Democratic National Convention, a professional courtesy that Members who are former gridiron stars enthusiastically cheered.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the call to jump-start the regular season on Wednesday, Sept. 5, in lieu of conflicting with Obama’s pep rally. Obama is scheduled to address the Democratic faithful on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Bank of America Stadium, the home field of the Carolina Panthers.
An NFL spokesman assured HOH that no one in the administration requested the calendar swap. “We made this decision on our own,” the NFL aide stated, brushing aside speculation that this accommodation was a quid pro quo for Obama moving up an economic address a year earlier to avoid delaying the NFL’s 2011 season opener.
The NFL has taken to getting the ball rolling on a Thursday night since 2002. But the pair of lawmakers who traded shoulder pads and two-a-days for Congressional lapel pins and vote-a-ramas insist the temporal shift is for the best.
“Changing the date will most likely not have any effect on the players for the first game. If anything, the teams who are playing on Wednesday will have an extra day of rest/recovery before their Week 2 game,” predicted Rep. Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), a former offensive tackle.
Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) applauded the NFL’s foresight, urging others not to play politics with the promotional blitz. “This is not a Democratic or Republican issue and should not be treated that way or viewed through a political lens,” the former NFL quarterback cautioned.