Broncos and Steelers were already scheduled for Sunday night opener before Manning signing

Chris Chase
April 19, 2012

When the NFL schedule was released on Tuesday, the game that drew the most attention was the Denver Broncos hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Sunday Night Football's" season premiere. It was widely assumed that Denver got the nod because the game will be the Mile High debut of the team's new quarterback, Peyton Manning.

But the NFL's head of scheduling, Howard Katz, said that Broncos-Steelers was slated for Week 1 on SNF even before Manning signed with the Broncos. It would have been a playoff rematch featuring Tim Tebow, after all.

That info comes from a fascinating New York Times article by Judy Battista on how the NFL schedule sausage gets made. Go read the whole thing; it's excellent. I don't want to give too much away, but a few quick highlights:

• Troy Aikman got so mad at scheduling czar Howard Katz for moving last year's Week 17 game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys that he stopped talking to him.

• A few weeks ago, the 14,000 playable computer-generated schedules had been winnowed to one. Then Katz and his colleagues realized one team was playing on a Thursday night after a three-game road trip. It was back to the drawing board.

• Roger Goodell reviewed the master schedule for two hours before it was approved. That's one hour less than ESPN devoted on Tuesday night.