The Genius of the NFL’s Yearly Calendar

“Just when I thought that I was out, they pull me back in.” -Michael Corleone

Another Short Story By John Turner

First of all, I’m just a fan and an Armchair GM. I watch football for a variety of reasons. The NFL leads the pack in an expanding list of leagues that all play a role in the sport. The NFL will remain the top dog unless the league does irreparable and or catastrophic damage to itself.

The History, the logos, the all time greats, the Super Bowl, the games, players, and coaches with nicknames, the variety in play style, the traditions of the teams, the evolution of the identities of each team, the abundance in analyzation of the league and of course, the year round schedule all work in beautiful tandem to catapult it over all other leagues.

The NFL takes place in the fall and early winter when many Americans aren’t scheduling any more vacations, or weekend projects for the year. It’s colder in over half of the country during this time so what better way to spend the weekend than watching non stop football with college on Saturdays and the NFL on Sundays. It’s genius really.

With that being said there is actually football at a professional level played year round, starting with the CFL playing from late spring to late fall. A bonanza of international leagues start and finish all over the calendar year. Arena/Indoor leagues, women’s leagues, and spring/developmental leagues all run through the spring. Last but certainly not least, the XFL will begin play in 2020 right after the Super Bowl and continue up to the NFL draft. While I believe there’s plenty of fans and support for all of these leagues to be successful, Americans are still not quite acclimated nor have they grown accustomed to professional spring football. In my opinion these leagues should use the genius of the year round scheduling of the NFL as a tool to spring board into the limelight by marketing themselves during times that NFL viewers have the most eyes on NFL content.

The NFL does a perfect job, in my opinion, of staying relevant throughout the calendar year. While the actual games are only played from early August to early February (preseason to Super Bowl Sunday) it has peppered the calendar with events annually to maintain a stranglehold of our attention spans. Later on, I’ll expand on what the other leagues are doing, or can do, to impersonate Butchie Yost and  surf wave of success piggybacking off said genius scheduling of the NFL.

(First one to name that reference gets $1 in their CashApp from me)

Let’s start with the day after the final regular season games..

December 31: It’s Just Another Manic Monday

This day is considered Black Monday. It’s used for most coaches and their staffs that did not impress during the season or failed to live up to ownership and or management expectations to be fired. This allows owners who are typically out of the playoffs to get an early start on rebuilding the organization and establish new leadership and direction. It’s almost like the beginning of free agency for coaches.

January 5 & 6: “Playoffs?!? You Talking Bout Playoffs?!?”

Wild Card Playoff Round

Not to be confused with Ricky Vaughn’s 1989 TOPPS Rookie Card, this is when seeds 3-6 battle it out in each conference. Seeds 1 and 2 just practice the football equivalent of voyeurism.

January 12 & 13: “Hey, Fellas, This Is What You Work all Offseason For, This Is Why You Lift All Them Weights, This Is Why You Do All That Sh#t”

Divisional Playoff Round

For me this this always the most exciting week of the year as far as the quality of games.

Look no further than the epic in Miami…

January 19 & 20: One Shall Stand, One Shall Fall.. You Got The Touch, You Got The Poweeerrrrrr

College All Star Games and Playoffs

East-West Shrine Game & NFLPA Collegiate Bowl are on Saturday.

NFL Championship games air Sunday.

January 26 & 27: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

Senior Bowl Saturday

NFL Pro Bowl Sunday

Here is the difference between all three collegiate games:

January 28: Hey, Hey, I Wanna Be a Rock Star

Radio Row begins. Essentially it’s like Holy Week for radio personalities and a chance for anyone- Hollywood/music figures, writers, professional athletes and even John Turner- past, present, and future to market themselves and their products like an endorsement, a book, an app, etc. to the hundreds of various media outlets set up throughout the week. Also it’s an opportunity for radio personalities to get interviews from many folks they may not normally be able to get the opportunity to speak to throughout the year. This is also when the Commissioner delivers “The State of the League” Annual Press Conference.

January 31: Oh, Canada!

Deadline for NFL clubs to try out and negotiate with CFL players who are entering an option year in 2019, or whose 2018 contracts are due to expire.

February 3: The Tom Brady Invitational

“Patriots on three, Patriots on three… One, two, three, PATRIOTS!!” – The Referees

Super Bowl Sunday

The single most watched event in the world. The Super Bowl is the biggest time of year for companies to make a splash in advertising. Not only is it the pinnacle of the game world wide, but it attracts so many viewers that the following day it’s estimated that work places are down nearly 4 billion dollars in production the following day.

February 4: One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

Waiver system begins for 2019

February 12: Oh, Canada! Revisted

NFL teams may begin to sign players whose 2019 CFL contracts have expired.

February 26 – March 4: You’re The Best! Around! Nothings Gonna Ever Keep Ya Down!!

NFL Scouting Combine

This is when agents, scouts, coaches, GMs, and owners get to interview top prospects and add details on player workouts and scouting reports. The NFL Network refers to this as the Underwear Olympics. At this year’s Combine, some of us were treated to more than we were expecting to see. Next year, hopefully no one forgets Step 1: Cut a Hole in the Box.

March 5: Tag ‘Em and Bag ‘Em

Deadline for teams to submit Franchise and or Transition Players.

March 6: Strut, Pout, Put It Out

College pro days begin. Player workouts and scouting begin respective colleges. It’s basically the combine at each individual college.

March 11 – 13: “Look, But Don’t Touch. Touch, But Don’t Taste. Taste, Don’t Swallow.”

Teams are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents when their contracts expire. They can agree to terms but cannot sign officially until 4 PM the following day. In my opinion this is a bizarre rule but a rule nonetheless.

March 13: Merry New Year!

The 2019 league year, free agency and trading period begin at 4:00 p.m.

All teams must be under the 2019 salary cap and Top 51 Rule begins.

A flurry of player movements occur on this day not only setting the market for free agents at their respective positions but reshuffle the deck for some teams looking to upgrade and fill areas of their rosters in a practical and sometimes splashy manner. Leading fans to become unglued with pandemonium to discuss typically  72 hours of wall to wall, pillar to post no holds barred transactions until most of the big names are off the board.

Here’s every FA move thus far for the 2019 season:

March 24-27: Where the Big Boys Play

Annual League Owners Meeting: This is the opportunity for owners and league executives to discuss tweaking and changing rules and policies throughout the league. This is the first of two yearly meetings.

April 1: April Fools! 

Teams that hired a new head coach after the end of the 2018 regular season may begin offseason workout programs. This allows new coaches to have a two week window to get a jumpstart on the rest of the league’s coaches.

April 6: Here’s Looking At You, 1973 Louisiana- Lafayette

Last day of college pro days.

April 15: Welcome Back, Kotter

Teams with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

April 25 – 27: Vontae Mack No Matter What!

The NFL Draft
Day 1- Round 1
Day 2- Rounds 2 and 3
Day 3- Rounds 4 through 7

Fans, top prospects with their friends and family, and media are all in attendance along with team officials. Teams officials typically camp out in conference rooms known as “The War Room”. There has been a much bigger emphasis on showcasing the draft under the regime of commissioner Roger Goodell than in years previous. It’s gone from a 1 day barely televised event to a now three network covered extravaganza.

April 28 & 29: Sorry, Not Sorry

The following 48 hours after the NFL draft, teams scramble to fill their rosters to go into training camp with undrafted free agents. These are the players that the teams liked but were not drafted. It’s essentially a feeding frenzy of camp invites.

May 20 – 22: Old Rich White Guys Saying Stuff: Part Deux

NFL Spring League Meeting

It’s the opportunity to finalize any decisions as far as potential role changes that may occur for the upcoming season. Revisit old business and table topics for future league meeting discussions.

June 2: It’s Not You, It’s Me

Second round of Waiver Period
Post draft cuts of veterans are typically made at this deadline. As teams address positions of need in the draft or the previous round of free agency, the door is opened to release some players and save salary cap space. It is often looked at as the first round of cuts.

Shortly afterward the NFL has their Supplemental Draft.

July 15: Valar Morghulis. Valar Dohaeris.

Franchise Player signing deadline.

Mid July marks the beginning of training camps.

August 1 – 4: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game and new Hall of Fame inductees are enshrined.

Check out the well deserved and long awaited ovation that Art Monk received…

August 6: Bueller.. Bueller… Bueller…

Deadline for players under contract to report to their teams to earn an accrued season for free agency.

August 31: Natural Selection 

Final Cut Day

Teams reduce rosters to 53 men. Simultaneously, teams that have players in the categories of Active/Physically Unable to Perform or Active/Non-Football Injury or Illness place players on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non- Football Injury or Illness, and designate players.

Player designations are:

Request waivers- terminate contract- trade contract- or continue to count the player on the Active List

September 1: The More I Drink, The Better She Looks

Players claimed to 10 man practice squads (11 in the AFC east for the International Player Development Exempt spot)

September 5, 8, and 9: So It Begins

Top 51 Rule expires. All teams must be under the salary cap.

Week 1 of the regular season. Thursday night will be the first game of week 1. All other teams play on Sunday except for the two Monday night matchups. Followed by 16 weeks of regular season NFL football with the trade deadline occurring in Week 9.

Rinse and repeat…

Next up: We’ll take a dive into the other leagues current schedules and give our take on how they can help themselves by implementing the NFL schedule’s high trafficked times by fans into a way to gain exposure for their respective leagues. Stay tuned.