The NFL scheduled only two games on Christmas day next season, both in the evening, even though the holiday falls on a Sunday, opting to play a nearly full slate of Saturday afternoon games on Christmas Eve instead.
The league released the schedule yesterday, and officials said they handled things as they had in the past when Christmas fell on a Sunday.
The NFL schedules only two games on Christmas day next season even though the holiday falls on a Sunday, opting to play a nearly full slate of games on Christmas Eve instead.
"It's the procedure we've followed when this has come up before," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations.
The league scheduled 13 afternoon games for Dec. 24, but no night games. There are two evening games on Christmas, with Chicago playing at Green Bay at 5 p.m. and Minnesota playing at Baltimore at 8:30. The season's final Monday night game is scheduled for Dec. 26, with the New York Jets hosting the New England Patriots.
New Year's Day also falls on a Sunday, but the league scheduled a full complement of 14 games for Jan. 1. The final game of the regular season comes at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, with St. Louis at Dallas. There are two games scheduled for New Year's Eve, with Denver at San Diego at 4:30 and the New York Giants at Oakland at 8.
The league previously had announced that the Patriots would host the Raiders in the Thursday night season opener, on Sept. 8. The Indianapolis Colts are to play at Baltimore in the first Sunday night game on Sept. 11. The Philadelphia Eagles are to play at Atlanta on Sept. 12 in the first Monday night game, a rematch of last season's NFC championship game.
The Arizona Cardinals will face the San Francisco 49ers on Oct. 2 in Mexico City in the first NFL regular season game to be played outside the United States.
The Falcons, after reaching the conference title game last season before losing to the Eagles, are scheduled to host three Monday night games next season.
One of next season's most intriguing matchups will come on a Sunday night in the third week of the season, when the Giants will play at San Diego. Giants quarterback Eli Manning will face the team he snubbed in last year's draft. Manning and his representatives told the Chargers, who had the top overall selection in last year's draft, that he didn't want to play in San Diego.
The Chargers drafted Manning anyway -- resulting in some uncomfortable moments in which he had to stand on the draft stage in New York and answer questions about being the club's new franchise player -- but traded him to the Giants that day in a deal that sent fellow quarterback Philip Rivers to San Diego. But Rivers couldn't beat out Drew Brees for the starting job, and Brees helped the Chargers to a 12-4 record and an AFC West title. San Diego has the Giants' first-round pick as well as its own in this year's draft, which begins April 23.
The Giants lost the first six games Manning started after replacing Kurt Warner last season, then won their finale.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri signed the one-year contract tender that the Patriots offered him upon designating him the club's franchise player in February. He will have a salary of $2.509 million, unless he and the team agree to a long-term contract. Under NFL rules, franchise players and their clubs cannot reopen negotiations on multiyear contracts until July 15. . . . The Patriots released cornerback Hank Poteat and tight end Jed Weaver. . . .
The New York Giants reached an agreement with the state of New Jersey that will allow the team to build a new, $750 million stadium in the Meadowlands. A news conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. today. . . .
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said during an appearance this week in Dallas that he expects the city to host a Super Bowl in 2011 or 2012 in the Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, Tex., which is scheduled to open in 2009. . . .
Linebacker Jamie Sharper, who was released by Houston, signed a five-year, $17.5-million contract with Seattle that includes a $1.5 million signing bonus. . . . The Steelers re-signed tight end Walter Rasby, an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year, minimum-salary contract. . . .
The restricted free agent market closes on Friday, and yesterday brought a flurry of late activity. Minnesota signed Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman to a one-year offer sheet, and Detroit signed San Francisco offensive lineman Kyle Kosier to a one-year offer sheet. The Packers and 49ers have a week to decide whether to match the offers and retain their players.
News services contributed to this report.