NFL gave Jets six early prime-time games because they “kind of owe us one”

The Jets will play seven standalone games – including six in prime time – over the first 11 weeks of the season. In a conference call Thursday with reporters, NFL vice president of broadcast planning Mike North provided a surprisingly frank explanation.

“Yes, there are a lot of prime time games at the start of the season, but, obviously, I feel like the Jets owe us one” North said, via Rich Cimini of (Thanks, Rich, for typing that. I was postponing the recording of the call for an hour to find the right spot. )

“When we had this conversation a year ago, we were — all of us — all in on the Jets, and for this guy to last four games was disheartening for a lot of us,” North added. “I feel like we could go back, and certainly our broadcast partners, when they came to us early in the process to talk to us about the storylines that they wanted to focus on at the start of the season, obviously the Aaron Rodgers’ return was key for everyone. Hopefully he stays healthy and hopefully they’re relevant.

Of course, the schedule will make it harder for him to stay healthy. Three games in 10 days to start the season, after a full year since he played four snaps. Twice he will play on Sunday then Thursday. (If he stays healthy long enough to do so.)

And the idea that the Jets “owe us one” seems a little strange. The Jets don’t owe anyone anything. They didn’t have a disastrous season on purpose. They wanted Rodgers to play all year. They took no unfair advantage of not delivering on the prime-time promise the NFL built last year by making the Jets one of the marquee teams on the 2023 schedule.

Really, why would anyone assume that a 39-year-old quarterback would stay healthy all year? Why do we think this will happen this year?

To maximize his chances of recovery, the league gave the Jets a schedule with all prime-time games before their Week 12 bye. If Rodgers survives and the Jets are still in contention, they will be in the mix for that even more matches are moved to later time slots. (Hooray?)

Regardless of how things play out, the Jets shouldn’t be put in a tougher situation this year as they found themselves in the toughest situations last year. While it is important for the NFL to appease its broadcast partners and the goal, as always, is to maximize audiences, it seems unfair to impose on the Jets and their now-aged quarterback 40 years of playing so many evening matches and two short weeks. games in the first half of the season, simply because they only got four snaps from Rodgers in 2023.

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