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Mike North NFL Broadcasting VP: 'Storylines with Every Jets Game'

QB Aaron Rodgers Is Back and ‘the Team Only Got Better’


Quick rewind and then punch that fast-forward button.

"One of the key storylines of the year clearly is the Aaron Rodgers experience that we got wrapped up last year," NFL Vice President of Broadcast Planning Mike North told Eric Allen of on a post-schedule release edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "Man, nobody saw that coming, [Rodgers' Achilles tendon injury] only four plays into last season. So I feel like we've kind of run it back [from] 12 months ago, we were all in ... I'm not really sure what's changed. The Jets think they're going to be good. The last time we saw this guy play quarterback he was playing at an MVP level. Yeah, I think it's safe to say we are bullish, if not on the Jets playoff chances certainly on the fan interest in aron Rodgers certainly through the first let's call it eight or nine weeks of the season."

Just how bullish is the NFL on the Jets and Aaron Rodgers? Let us count the ways.

Right out of the gate, a cherished Week 1 national TV slot on Monday night, Sept. 9 as head coach Robert Saleh takes the Green & White to Levi's Stadium to face his former team -- the San Francisco 49ers.

The attractiveness of the matchup basically speaks for itself: The Niners are coming off a loss, in overtime, in the Super Bowl to Kansas City (their second loss to the Chiefs in the past five title games). Rodgers is a Cali "kid" who played at Cal-Berkeley and Saleh worked the San Francisco defense from 2017-20 under HC Kyle Shanahan.

"The way we look at it is all 272 of these matchups have value and which ones do the fans most want to see?" North said. "Did we tell the computer to put Jets-San Fran on Monday night in Week 1? Did we tell the computer Jets-San Fran is a big one and it really needs to be Sunday night or Monday night and could it have been a 4:25 Eastern on CBS or Fox? We looked at it for some of the holiday weekends, but we should know that the Jets-San Fran's game was just too big to be just another game at 4:05. Eastern in Week 8.

"So, did we tell the computer to put in Week 1 on Monday night? No. Did we tell the computer to make sure we get maximum value out of a game like that? Yes. And so as the computer spins around through the infinite solution space and starts throwing back options to the scheduling team. As I said, you would have been thrilled with the Jets Dolphins or Bills on Monday night, but Jets-San Fran, it feels like maybe a step up, a little tick higher and as you kind of build out this historic opening weekend where we're going to be playing games on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday. That's a lot of football.

"That Monday night game really needs to be something to kind of cook in and still have everybody eager to get to when you get to Monday night. And again you think about the ESPN family of media personalities and they'll be talking about it starting the first thing in the morning and going all the way through with ESPN Radio and all day long on all their platforms. I suspect it will be like an awful lot of people talking about a big game hopefully that culminates with 20, 25, 30, million people getting in front of their televisions if it's on that Monday night and hopefully the game is competitive and comes down to the wire. A one score game in the fourth quarter that's the recipe for good ratings."

The NFL, in anticipation of Rodgers' first season with the Jets, slotted the team into five primetime games (three at MetLife Stadium) last year. This season the Jets will again be under the bright lights, with four primetime games at home (the home opener after two to open on the road vs. New England, Thursday, Sept. 19; vs. Buffalo, Monday, Oct. 14; vs. Houston, Thursday, Oct. 31; and vs. Indianapolis, Monday, Nov. 17). They will also face Pittsburgh at night on Sunday, Oct. 20. In all, that's six primetime games in the first 11 weeks of the season, and four through Week 9.

"There are more primetime windows," North said. "So we've got more mouths to feed, whether it's those side by side for ABC and ESPN on "Monday Night Football," obviously the standalone game in London [vs. Minnesota on Sunday, Oct. 6]. Those are becoming more prevalent. There's probably going to be seven or eight of them maybe next year. You look down the stretch, obviously we added some new windows here with our little Christmas round robin [a Wednesday doubleheader live on the Netflix streaming service].

"So the days when you had seven, eight, nine being played on CBS and Fox on a Sunday afternoon and the vast majority of our games being played at 1 o'clock. That's not really where this project is going. That's not really where fan consumption is going. So we've got a lot more mouths to feed, a lot more national windows, and the teams that are most interesting to our fans and our partners [CBS, ESPN/ABC, NBC, Amazon, Netflix] are probably gonna find themselves in one or two more national windows now than they probably would."

The Jets -- who own the international marketing rights in the UK and also have the added connection via Chairman Woody Johnson who recently served as the US ambassador to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland -- will be returning to London for the first time since 2015. The game against the Vikings will be played at the home stadium of the Premier League soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. The game will be the Jets' sixth outside the US; while the NFL is scheduled to play five games in three countries (Brazil, Britain and Germany) this season.

"I think we might be looking at half the teams in the league next year playing an international game," North said. He added: "This is a constant evolving process. But again, I think the way the league is going now when you think about some of these new windows, some of these new partners, this is really a way to try to feed our fans' voracious appetite for more NFL football. In the league this year, we're playing Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, it's almost like the Covid year where we just had to kind of figure it out as we went.

"The fans are going to tell us if this is too much. If this is too many games and national windows and they just can't watch them all. They'll tell us, but I don't think we've hit that inflection point. Yet. And I think you know, we're all gonna have to adjust a little bit both in our viewing habits and really in the team's preparation."

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