Networks pass on Packers

Green Bay not featured during opening weekend, Thanksgiving Day

The Green Bay Packers, usually a big draw for the television networks, will not be one of the 10 featured teams when the National Football League kicks off its season in September. The Packers also have been left off the slate on Thanksgiving Day as well.

The Packers have traditionally helped the networks score high ratings, thanks to their large fan base. But Green Bay is coming off a 4-12 season and the uncertainly on whether Brett Favre will return in 2006 has apparently given the networks plenty of reasons to put other teams ahead of Green Bay.

League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has announced that the Miami Dolphins will face the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers at Pittsburgh to kick off the season Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. (CT) on NBC.

On Sunday, Sept. 10, Dallas plays at Jacksonville in the Fox doubleheader game (3:15 p.m., CT) and Indianapolis plays at the New York Giants in the Sunday night game (7:15 p.m., NBC).

The first Monday Night Football broadcast by ESPN falls on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. ESPN will feature Minnesota at Washington at 6 p.m. (CT) followed by Oakland at San Diego at 9:15 p.m.

The Thanksgiving Day schedule features three games instead of the usually two. In addition to two network games (Miami at Detroit, 11:30 a.m., and Tampa Bay at Dallas, 3:15 p.m., CT), the NFL Network will broadcast a game on satellite TV (Denver at Kansas City, 7 p.m.).

"I hear every fall (from TV executives) that whenever we're on TV, the ratings are great. The networks want us," Packers president Bob Harlan said last year after the schedule was announced.

Green Bay played in a Fox doubleheader game at Detroit to open the season last year and on Monday Night Football at Carolina in 2004.

Green Bay played eight of its 16 games on national television last year. The Packers had the maximum number of Monday night games (three) for the third straight season.

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