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IMPORTANT: New NFL TV Rules Will Reduce My Mark Schlereth Risk Factor By 50 Percent

12:27 PM EDT on May 10, 2023

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 08: Former NFL player and current sportscaster Mark Schlereth stands on the field during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The NFL schedule will be officially released Thursday, although league-sanctioned leaks—an oxymoron—are already being doled out in strategically timed intervals by the Scheffiseros of the world. If you’re some Cockney living in London and thinking to yourself, “Bruv, I’d fancy the Jagyooahs playing back-to-back games in our 'Ello Kitty,” today has been your Boxing Day. Otherwise, the particulars of your team’s schedule have been known since the end of the regular season, rendering the formal schedule reveal just another piece of manufactured offseason league content. You know WHO your team is playing next season; you just don’t know the exact order of those opponents at the moment, or where the games will be televised.

That last part is the only aspect of the schedule reveal that has any import for me, the diehard fan. I need to know how many primetime games they’re playing, because that will tell me how important everyone else is supposed to find them. I need to know if they’re gonna be one of the unfortunate teams assigned to play TWO Thursday night games this season instead of just one (new rule). And I need to know if they’re playing on a holiday, so that I can plan to disappoint my loved ones accordingly. Every other game on their schedule will fit cozily into the Sunday Ticket bucket, and THAT where things get CUH-RAZAY.

For my entire adult life, Sunday games have always been neatly segregated, with FOX (DUH-nuh-nuh nuh-nuh-NUH!) getting the NFC games and CBS (DUNNNNN dun-dun-DUN-dun!) getting the AFC. Seeing the Vikings on CBS was a curiosity reserved only for their interconference games. When those happened, I’d be like, “Oh wow, Dick Enberg is doing our game! COOL!”

Those curiosities will soon become the norm. The NFL loosened these restrictions a couple of years ago, with intraconference matchups occasionally floating between those two networks. But now we have total schedule ANARCHY. The line of televised conference demarcation has been annihilated (except, and somehow this is a Defector Exclusive™, during the postseason, where I can confirm that games will be assigned in the usual fashion). All of these Sunday games are now free to suck or fuck on whatever network they please. This is reportedly the reason why the schedule reveal was almost delayed. Roger Goodell couldn’t properly arrange the schedule on time, because all of the pages were stuck together.

Will I get used to this open marriage eventually, the same way I do any webpage redesign? Yes. But here is where I drop my Resting Irony Face and tell you that this will take some time for me to process. The older I get, the harder it becomes for me to accept anything changing. It fucked me up when they changed Coke Zero to Coke Zero Sugar, for God’s sake. So when I’m bingeing Sunday Ticket in the fall (on YouTubeTV, which is its own cosmetic earthquake) and I see FOX graphics where CBS graphics used to be and vice versa, something in my frontal lobe will notice the difference and will CONTINUE noticing it. It will do so for weeks on end, if not years. This is silly on a conscious level, because I’m exactly as loyal to these networks as they are to me. But my brain is wired for commerce (subscribe to Defector!), as is yours. Any disruption in the commercial system is bound to stick to me like those schedule pages.

But there’s one enormous upside to this specific change. Giving CBS the keys to my team’s car means that, in terms of statistical probability, I won’t have this man presiding over my team’s games quite as often as he used to:

"Tell you what, I love that these Bears are getting DIRTY in the trenches!"

[shudders]

You know who Mark Schlereth is, and you know what it means when he gets to do one of your team’s games on Sunday. It means that your team is SHIT. Forgettable. Vestigial. FOX thinks so little of your team that they’ll let this man—this awful, awful man—get his piss stains all over it. He makes your team's victories feel empty and their losses feel worse. He's also single-handedly holding down the career path of his boothmate, Adam Amin, who is good at his job and deserves better. We all do.

And now, thanks to this newfangled scheduling bacchanalia, I will get what I deserve. I’ve endured a lot of shitty announcers in my time, but I’ve always been willing to tolerate them because I accept their unjustified employment as the cost of doing business with the NFL. Only now I’m being told that I may not HAVE to tolerate Schlereth doing my team’s games quite as often as I used to. So who’s Boxing Day is it NOW, I ask you, England? Mine. Because while I notice network graphic packages and jingles with the attentiveness of Sherlock Holmes, I notice the broadcast teams even more so. The second I hear Schlereth’s voice on my TV, I let out a sustained groan that lasts for three hours. Jonathan Vilma is close to eliciting a similar reaction, but now my Vilma risk factor has also been cut in half! This is bigger news than the Aaron Rodgers trade.

There is a victim in all of this, and it's any fan of an AFC team who just saw their Schlereth Risk Factor increase by orders of magnitude. Truly, I sympathize with all of you. You didn't ask for this burden. But at least we'll share in that burden together now. Many hands make light work. All of us will be exposed to Schlereth now, but those exposure rates will be survivable, not unlike a visit to present-day Chernobyl.

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