The other day I told you about the potential for the Cowboys to be featured on Sunday Night Football one more time this season, which would be a cruel blow for a team that has lost six Sunday Night games in a row. Ah, but the news gets even worse. There are a few wrinkles in the new contracts that could mean more primetime games for Dallas over the course of the next decade, with the NFL Network's Thursday Night schedule set to expand:
The league also announced that the NFL Network would receive an expanded schedule of Thursday-night games but did not determine how many more would be aired.
As you know, the Cowboys are already slated to play on the NFL Network this Saturday night. Should NBC flex in one of their remaining games, the Cowboys would have a full third of their schedule put in primetime, and that percentage is almost certain to go up thanks to the new labor deal. More primetime games means bigger ratings, which means more revenue, and so it goes. This is bad news for a Cowboys team whose psyche seems to crumble anytime the spotlight gets too hot. The Double J loves to see his own stadium displayed for a national TV audience at night, but his thirst for media attention makes Dallas one of the more heavily scrutinized teams in the NFL, which means that mentally delicate players (coughROMOcough) have a rougher time succeeding here. But that's unlikely to stop Jerry's relentless pursuit of getting people to look at him.
There are a few other things you need to know about the new contracts. First of all, SI's Richard Deitsch has found that CBS and FOX won't be as tied down to the AFC and NFC respectively. The TV slates will mix and match, which means you could see less and less Aikman in your life starting next year. Whether or not you consider it a bad thing to hear less of Aikman saying, "You're right, Joe," is up to you.
The other obvious implication is financial. ESPN's contract alone represents an increase of 70%, paying the league $1.7 billion ANNUALLY. Jiminy Christmas. That means the salary cap could rise upwards of $200 million sometime this decade. You could see the Cowboys doling out $60 million in signing bonuses to the likes of Tony Romo, whose contract expires in 2013. You mean we get to pay more money to see Romo fail more times in more prime time games? CANNOT. WAIT.
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