Rivalries often don’t mean nearly as much to the players as they do to the fans. That’s good, because the NFL is in the business of pleasing fans, and making them pay to watch their product every Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and a few Saturdays.
And that’s also why when the Giants won the Super Bowl, the matchup to open the season was one of the easiest to make in recent memory. The defending champs traditionally host the kickoff Thursday night game in September, and this year the Giants will unveil their Super Bowl banner as the rival Cowboys watch from the opposite sideline.
The league announced the matchup earlier this afternoon, and it’s a game that will be a Thursday night game only in our minds. That’s because Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention is scheduled during the NFL’s usual early September Thursday night time slot. Leaving the political showdowns to the politicians during an election year, the league gave ground, and decided to hold the 2012 kickoff game on a Wednesday night instead. It’ll be the first game played on a Wednesday since 1948.
As easy as it was to make the Giants-Cowboys matchup, there could have been a better and even easier matchup out there: Giants vs. Broncos, and Manning vs. Manning. Having a non-conference game on opening night would have cut across several grains of figurative wood since there’s only been two in the 10-year history of the kickoff game. Unfortunately, the celestial bodies didn’t quite align that perfectly, and New York’s four non-conference games were already scheduled to be played against AFC North teams.
That poor luck robbed the league of another chance to cash in on the offseason frenzy created by Peyton’s historic free agency and move to Denver, and set a ratings record for this galaxy and beyond. But oh well, the elder, newly-Broncoed Manning will still get many, many prime time games, and likely one on the first Sunday night.