NFL Debunks Taylor Swift Conspiracy in Revealing Complex Schedule Crafting Process

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Crafting the annual NFL schedule rivals splitting the atoms in complexity. Scores of computers work in indefatigable overdrive, generating infinite versions of the labyrinthine task over an arduous four-month timeline.

There are intricate, sometimes dueling factors to consider, from appeasing television partners to maintaining a competitive balance for teams and assuring that stadiums are available.

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Fanciful online speculation aside, one element that failed to influence the schedule’s creation was ensuring that Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs had a game lined up near a touring location of pop songstress Taylor Swift.

Mike North, the NFL’s esteemed vice president for broadcast planning, on Thursday debunked a swirling online theory: “I noticed myriad conspiracy theorists pontificating about Kansas City playing Buffalo midseason, conveniently aligned with Swift performing in Toronto. Unquestionably, this theory didn’t even blip on our radar.”

Over recent years, the Chiefs have ascended to the elevated ranks of the NFL’s most magnetic television draws. The credit largely belongs to Patrick Mahomes, their talented quarterback who has piloted them to three Super Bowl victories in the last five seasons. Swift’s various appearances at games, ostensibly to cheer on her romantic partner, Kelce, amplified Kansas City’s broadcast appeal last season.

This may explain why major television partners of the NFL got a slice of the Kansas City action. About seven games were allotted to CBS in the new schedule released on Wednesday, with NBC securing four prime-time games, including the Thursday night starting match against Baltimore, two Sunday night games and a Saturday night faceoff during Week 16.

Kansas City’s packed agenda includes a Saturday game against Houston, followed swiftly by a Christmas Day match against Pittsburgh streamed on Netflix. They’re also featured in Amazon Prime Video’s second annual Black Friday game, played the day after Thanksgiving, and a highly anticipated Super Bowl face-off against San Francisco is slated to air on Fox during Week 7.

Mike North reiterated the valuable quotient of Kansas City Chiefs, saying, “They’re as coveted as the Cowboys right now, with major channels grappling to secure a number of their games.”

Setting the schedule’s cryptic essence into motion commenced as soon as the 2023 season concluded, and the adversaries for each team and the venues for each game were locked in.

What was once a manual operation evolved into mechanized wizardry. From a handful of computers compiling the schedule, the NFL now utilizes a cloud computing model that spawns an incalculable variety of potential calendars far beyond human comprehension. The fresh schedule emerged last Sunday morning after it was given the green light of approval by commissioner Roger Goodell.

Hans Schroeder, the league’s executive vice president of media distribution, reflected on the daunting task. “It’s an enormously challenging enigma,” he said.

In recent years, the schedule architects have been granted flexibility. Teams are now not bound to play a prime-time game, some traditional NFC games can be aired on CBS, and AFC games can jump to Fox on Sunday afternoons.

Publicity-centered, prime-time games averaged from a high of six for San Francisco, the New York Jets, and Dallas, to none for Carolina, and merely one for New England, Tennessee, Las Vegas, Arizona, and Indianapolis.

“From a scheduling perspective,” Schroeder said, “teams earn their passage to prime time and larger windows through their performances.”

Of all the teams, the Jets were unique. They landed five prime-time games despite missing the playoffs last season, but the promising comeback of quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Joe Burrow made them enticing candidates.

On a concluding note, North said, “When deciding this schedule, we believed the Jets owed us a standout season. A year ago we were all betting on the Jets, so this abundant allotment of prime-time games early in the season was their due return of favor. Rodgers’ return was indeed a key focus for all of us.”