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The NFL’s Two-Week Break Before the Super Bowl Backfired With Bad Publicity

Would any of the NFL’s recent controversies have received so much oxygen if not for its usual one-week hiatus providing the opportunity?

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Do you think NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wishes there hadn’t been a week off between the league’s conference championship games and the Super Bowl this year?

No, the NFL probably won’t change having its usual two-week break before the Super Bowl. As former league spokesman Greg Aiello told The Guardian in 2016, “The concept was to give the promotion of the game time to build.”

“The two-week break has been standard procedure since the first Super Bowl,” he added. “There have been one-week breaks a handful of times when circumstances dictated it. Another benefit is that it gives the two teams more rest and recovery from injury.”

That “rest and recovery from injury” line will surely cause media and fans to smirk. The NFL added a game to its regular-season this past year, expanding each team’s schedule to 17 matchups.

As Aiello said, the extra week before the Super Bowl is all about promotion. Yes, there are travel considerations for the teams, league personnel, media, and fans. But really, the additional time provides an opportunity to ramp up the hype for the big game, to build anticipation to the one sporting event most everyone in America still seems to watch together.

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The week off also presents an opportunity for football-related promotion and stories that don’t relate to the pending game. Tom Brady almost certainly planned to announce his retirement during the NFL’s two-week break. But ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington beat him to it by reporting the news first and creating three days of unnecessary drama.

Is it possible that Brady was forced to reveal his plans before he was ready, perhaps after the Super Bowl? Maybe. But Brady and his people have shown they know all about marketing. Announcing his retirement as the NFL went into its showcase event, presenting a story that nearly everyone involved with the Super Bowl would be asked about, sure seems more likely.

The Washington Football Team scheduled the announcement of its new name while the NFL made preparations for Super Bowl LVI. Could the team have announced they were now the Commanders after the season ended, with media and fans exhaling? Sure.

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But team executives and marketers knew the week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl was the ideal time to maximize exposure and create a whole lot of publicity before the focus turned to the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.

Washington’s front office also likely intended for the Commanders announcement, logo and uniform rollout, and fan reaction to overshadow the congressional hearing on the NFL’s investigation into workplace sexual misconduct allegations.

Oh, and did the U.S. House Oversight Committee schedule that hearing for the week before the Super Bowl with the belief that it wouldn’t be lost amid the football news and hype coming from Los Angeles for The Big Game? Hmm.

However, the party that took full advantage of getting full media attention and dominating the sports news cycle and sports radio airwaves was former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores and his lawyers explaining their lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in the NFL’s hiring practices for head coaches.

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Flores and his team were on virtually every network to discuss the lawsuit and the coach speaking out against NFL team owners’ bias against Black coaching candidates, demonstrated by the lack of Black head coaches and the embarrassing text message between Flores and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. The trio appeared on CBS Mornings, CNN New Day, ESPN’s Get Up, and NPR among many other morning and daytime shows. Later in the evening, Flores and his team were on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes.

This was an all-out blitz. It could be called a “zero blitz,” which is a popular term on football telecast these days. But for Flores, “zero” might refer to the number of TV shows on which he and his lawyers didn’t appear. They were everywhere!

Yet would any of these stories gotten the oxygen they received if the NFL hadn’t taken its usual one-week hiatus and provided the opportunity?

Brady, the Washington Commanders, and Flores certainly could have tried. But with football media in Los Angeles to cover the Super Bowl and sports radio devoting time to previewing the Bengals-Rams matchup, it’s doubtful those three developments would’ve gotten the same attention.

No, they likely wouldn’t have been ignored and Goodell might have even had to address those matters in his annual “state of the union” press conference. But he also would’ve had some cover, possibly claiming that he and league officials hadn’t had proper time to look over sudden controversies and craft a proper response. (Would media and fans have bought that? No, and they shouldn’t.)

But maybe, just maybe, the past week and all of the negative publicity that these stories rained down on the NFL has Goodell, league executives, and team owners evaluating whether or not the two-week break before the Super Bowl creates too much opportunity for bad press. Many believe no week off makes for a better game and reduces the hype that make people just want to watch the game so all the noise will stop anyway.

Now, Roger Goodell might think that getting rid of that extra week could end up helping the NFL more than all that promotion and build-up. Those happy with dirty laundry getting aired out might think a week of free time might be best. It sure was this time around.

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BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

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