Could NFL playoff schedule changes create chaos for the PGA Tour's West Coast swing?
How could a new television deal for the National Football League lead to a certain amount of chaos for the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing in (...)
How could a new television deal for the National Football League lead to a certain amount of chaos for the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing in 2022? Could such a television deal put CBS in a bind for its coverage of the Tour event in San Diego?
It’s all possible if some reports about the extension of the NFL season deeper into February are true. A change in NFL dates could impact the American Express, the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
If you look up the date of the next Super Bowl, practically every website in the world lists Feb. 6, 2022. Every website, that is, except the NFL’s own website, which does not have a schedule for the 2021 regular season or playoffs.
There might be a good reason for that, since reports indicate the NFL is on the verge of announcing new television rights deals in the next week or two, and that a little bonus in the announcement will be the addition of a 17th regular-season game for teams.
Rather than starting the season a week earlier on Labor Day weekend, the NFL will start the season as it normally does after the holiday weekend and just push back the end of the season and the playoffs. That means the Super Bowl would be on Feb. 13, not Feb. 6.
Somehow, that one extra week could scramble things on the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing, by possibly affecting the actual dates of events or at least impacting television broadcasts of those events.
The PGA Tour has not released dates for the 2021-22 season, of course. That will come much later in the year. But if you go to the websites of the individual tournaments, enough of them have 2022 dates posted to put together the schedule for next January and February. It is a schedule that has not changed from recent years.
Start with the American Express in La Quinta, which says it will be played Jan. 20-23 next year. The American Express has been saddled with a pretty tough television date on Golf Channel in recent years, with its final round coinciding with the day the AFC and NFC championship games are played. Those are the two games that decide who will play in the Super Bowl.
If the season is pushed back one week, that means the American Express will face two NFL divisional games on Saturday and two more on Sunday in 2022.
Conflicts from television, football
The following week, Jan. 27-30, will be the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. That event has enjoyed the off week in the lead up to the Super Bowl in recent years, and also is the kickoff event for golf coverage on CBS. But the San Diego event could have a problem being played on the same day as the AFC Championship game next year, not only because that game is also broadcast by CBS but because Jim Nantz is the lead football and golf announcer for the network and would definitely do play-by-play for the football game.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open has embraced its traditional date of Super Bowl Sunday because of the massive crowds that attend the Arizona tournament anyway. But if things stay the same, the Phoenix tournament would be played the open week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
That would then lead to the Super Bowl being played opposite, in all likelihood, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, a tournament that hasn’t faced any NFL games (or NFL pregame shows) in recent years. The 2022 Super Bowl will be broadcast by NBC, so Nantz could still cover golf for CBS that week where he lives in Pebble Beach.
And if you think the Genesis Invitational won’t be impacted by the extended football schedule in 2022, remember that the Super Bowl will be played in Los Angeles next February, just one week before the Genesis event at Riviera Country Club.
So again, as is true in pretty much everything that includes the NFL, the NFL makes its own rules and everyone else must adjust. It is possible, of course, that the PGA Tour might look at changes by the NFL and make its own schedule adjustments in 2022, but the Tour has consistently said the flow of the West Coast swing – two events in Hawaii, then to La Quinta, San Diego, Scottsdale, Pebble Beach and Los Angeles – works very well for the Tour and its players.
The NFL will get its big-money deal, with a new home for Thursday Night Football – said to be Amazon Prime – and an extra regular-season game. The rest of the sports world, including the PGA Tour, will just have to live with that.
Larry Bohannan is golf writer at the Palm Springs Desert Sun, part of the USA Today Network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter at @Larry_Bohannan.