The Kansas City Chiefs will open the season at the New England Patriots in what should be a pretty darned good kickoff to the 2017 NFL season.
But there was another team that could have bumped the Chiefs from that spot .. had Tony Romo not hung up the cleats for the microphone.
According to NFL senior director of broadcasting Mike North, there was a strong possibility that the Houston Texans would have been playing at Gillette Stadium, and not the Chiefs, had Romo not retired and had he signed with the Texans.
You certainly could understand the appeal of that possible matchup. Speaking with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, North — one of the men who is in charge of helping create the NFL schedule — said a Romo at Tom Brady matchup was a very strong possibility had things turned out differently.
“There was zero thought put into Tony Romo’s broadcasting career [when it came to putting together the NFL schedule], but there was a lot of thought put into his potential playing career,” North said. “As we were sitting in that room, still working on that schedule … there was a chance he was going to be the quarterback of the Texans for a minute. It looked like he potentially could have been the quarterback for the Broncos.
“We were looking at schedule and thinking to ourselves, what happens if tomorrow we wake up and we read someone’s Twitter feed and Romo is the quarterback of the Texans? What then would we change in our approach to this schedule? A Houston at New England game, for instance.”
Instead, the Chiefs — and everyone’s favorite QB, Alex Smith — will face the Patriots in that key spot on Thursday, Sept. 7 on NBC to christen the season. The Patriots will welcome in the Texans for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on CBS — could Romo be broadcasting that game? It’s possible, if not likely. (The Broncos are on the Patriots’ schedule this season, but the game is in Denver in Week 10, also on NBC.)
Should Chiefs fans take this as a slight? Absolutely not — as it is, they have more prime-time games than any other team this season, including the Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, among others. That’s some healthy respect right there overall, and if a Chiefs fan could not understand the appeal of the Texans and Romo taking their place in that opener, along with the other potential storylines (playoff rematch, Bill O’Brien vs. Pats, possibly J.J. Watt’s return to the field) then they’re not seeing the wood for the trees here.
North also added that had Romo ended up in Denver, the matchup between the Broncos and Cowboys (Romo’s former team, of course) “becomes a whole different animal.” It now rests in the afternoon slot, at 4:25 ET on Fox in Week 2.
“I can’t tell you we spent a lot of time worrying about [Romo’s] broadcast career,” North said, “but we were absolutely focused on his playing career and waiting like everyone else to see if he was going to play.”
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