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The NFL’s schedule-makers didn’t much care about Aaron Rodgers’ immediate future with the Green Bay Packers.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Rodgers this offseason, Matt LaFleur’s team still has five primetime games (the max for one season) and six late afternoon games, putting the Packers directly into the national spotlight for more than half of the team’s games in 2021.
Charlotte Carey, the NFL’s director of broadcasting, explained why the league didn’t take into account Rodgers’ situation in Green Bay and were still “all-in” on the Packers when making the team’s schedule.
“So when an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers is in that position, it’s definitely tricky for the schedule team. But we really just stuck to our guns,” Carey said, via Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “The Packers have a fantastic schedule this year. They’re a great football team. We hope No. 12 is under center, but if he’s not, we’re still all in on the Packers. They’re a big, big brand in the NFL and have a huge national following, so we’re all in.”
Put another way, the Packers are still a big draw nationally regardless of the quarterback under center.
And really, there was no way to factor in Rodgers’ situation – given how unpredictable it still looks – this late in the process. The drama of it all may actually add to the appeal of the Packers around the country, especially if Rodgers is back but even if 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love becomes the assumed starter.
The Packers – winners of 26 regular-season games with Rodgers the last two seasons – will play all three home divisional games in primetime, plus a Week 3 meeting with the San Francisco 49ers on “Sunday Night Football” and a Week 8 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals on “Thursday Night Football.”
Many of the team’s best games – against top opponents from 2020 – are scheduled for late afternoon kickoffs, many of which will end up being national broadcasts.
MVP quarterbacks are a big draw. But so are historic teams with strong, wide-spread fanbases.
The Packers are giants in the Wisconsin sports world but also a strong national brand, with die-hard fans scattered across the country. While the Packers’ Super Bowl chances would take a dramatic hit if Rodgers isn’t back in 2021, the team will be entertaining – for different reasons, obviously – regardless of whether No. 12 is in Green Bay or not.
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