How The Bucs Got Their Primetime Games

May 18th, 2021

Some interesting tidbits from an NFL big shot on how the Bucs got their opponents and games on five primetime slots this fall.

Yesterday on Mad Dog Radio, Howard Katz, the NFL senior broadcasting VP who oversees TV scheduling, appeared with the one and only Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, heard exclusively on SiriusXM Radio.

Katz said the Bucs facing the Cowboys to open the season on Thursday, Sept. 9, was not a given. The NFL looked at several options.

Russo specifically mentioned how the NFL put the Bucs on the road and “didn’t have a chance” to open the 2003 season at home after winning the Super Bowl. Katz didn’t touch that subject.

“We looked at a bunch of possibilities,” Katz said. “Dallas — if you want to get the season off to a huge start, what better way than Dallas at the world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers?”

Katz added the league and NBC will sell to viewers how Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will make a triumphant return to football after blowing up his ankle last year in an effort to try and take down the Bucs.

“Doesn’t it sound like a football game?” Katz asked Russo. “Look, there were a bunch of options we had there. We ultimately decided to get off to the strongest start possible.

“We looked at Dallas; we looked at New Orleans; we looked at the Giants there; we looked at the Bears; we looked at Buffalo. Ultimately, it looked like Dallas at Tampa Bay was the best way to kick off the 2021 season.”

Then Katz confessed something very weird to Joe. The Bucs host the Giants on Monday Night Football, one of two Giants MNF games on BSPN. It seems, from Katz’s intel, BSPN has some odd fetish for the Giants.

“I think ESPN loves those games,” Katz said. “Giants at Tampa Bay and Giants at Kansas City was two games ESPN circled on their [desired] schedule. I called them with their schedule — oh, they love those games.”

As for the Sunday night game with the Bucs traveling to New England, which is being already overhyped, Katz said that game stood out for him and his crew at NFL headquarters to get the maximum number of eyeballs.

“Everybody did want it. Everybody had a legitimate case and made a legitimate case for getting that game,” Katz said of the NFL’s broadcast partners that had a chance to televise that game (FOX, BSPN, NBC). “I think ultimately we thought that a game of that magnitude should be on in primetime unopposed, so that 100 percent of the country will see it.”

To give you an idea how network suits think differently than fans, Russo asked Katz (who once was president of ABC Sports) why the slimy Saints got five primetime games with Drew Brees retired and Sean Payton making noise that Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, doesn’t have the starting job locked down.

“We still think New Orleans is a terrific brand,” Katz said.

Cool footnote on Katz: Among his career highlights was being in charge of ABC’s coverage of shows like “Superstars” and “Battle of the Network Stars.” The latter would never get on broadcast television today without the polite and easily-offended crowd howling about exploitation.

16 Responses to “How The Bucs Got Their Primetime Games”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    great work joe…

    GO BUCS!!!!

  2. Medicated Pete Says:

    That’s bcuz Zoo Yorkers are obsessed w/ Tampa & end up moving here smh

  3. dls5492 Says:

    It still ticks me off that the Bucs had to open in Philadelphia in 2003.

  4. Joe Says:

    Thanks 813bucboi!

  5. '79 Defense Says:

    Oh man, Joe. Battle of the Network Stars. There were some great looking women of the 70s on that show.

  6. David Says:

    I have never been so pumped up for a football season but…
    Game 2 tonight!!

    Game 1 was one of the best hockey games you’ll ever see.

  7. David Says:

    As for New Orleans, everything about that team is damn good. They just need their quarterback to not turn the ball over. Is is damn possible they will be right there fighting for the division

  8. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    David, NOLA’s QB may be the human turnover machine, the lad formerly known as Jay Miss. He ain’t nuthin’ BUT a turnover!

  9. BT Says:

    Saw the highlights for Game 1. Wow. I am definitely watching tonight.

  10. SlyPirate Says:

    Bucs put the hurt on the “America’s Team” in Game 1.

    They may be in the NFL but they ain’t in the same league.

  11. chris L Says:

    i think we know why the saints got on primetime: the jameis roller coaster. that guy cant handle primetime or those spotlight games. that will be beautiful to watch that team implode

  12. Buczilla Says:

    I get that Dallas is one of the most popular sports teams on the planet, but it’s still disrespectful to the team and us that they are hyping this as some super matchup. Even when Prescott was at full health in 2019, Dallas was just barely average in a horrible division. The Saints or Buffalo would have been much better matchups, but I look forward to the slaughter.

  13. #1bucsfan Says:

    David. That is my thought exactly. The saints have some serious weapons on offense. Thomas, Kamara , smith, cook if MR turnover machine cuts his turnovers in half then we might have a legit fight for the NFC south. Not trying to give them any cred but Winston is talented and if it comes together which I hope it doesn’t this could be bad.

  14. Keir Says:

    Bring back those shows Joe…Screw the cancel culture, my favorites were TYhe Battle of the Network stars. Ponch from Chips against Gopher from the Love Boat!!!

  15. Joe Says:

    Bring back those shows Joe…Screw the cancel culture, my favorites were TYhe Battle of the Network stars. Ponch from Chips against Gopher from the Love Boat!!!

    You forgot the ultimate jiggle TV show: Charlie’s Angels (with a twentysomething Cheryl Ladd).

  16. Keir Says:

    Hahahahaha, your right Joe. I went back and looked at the lineup on Wiki and those rosters were Stocked with talent 😉