Packers' fall shows in TV schedule

A decade ago, when the Packers were kicking butt and championships seemed possible every season, there was a raging debate around these parts: Who was America's Team? Was it the evil Dallas Cowboys or the beloved Green Bay Packers? The argument seems silly now. The Packers aren't America's Team. Worse, they are irrelevant.

The NFL schedule-makers made that painfully obvious on Thursday. The Packers will be as scarce in prime time as a truly funny sitcom or a 9 p.m. show that doesn't contain either sex, violence or both.

The Packers will be in prime time twice during the 2006 season; three times if you count their NFL Network appearance, and until NFL Network shows up on any cable system, then it doesn't count.

The marquee game of the week will be played Sunday nights on NBC, and the Peacock Network avoided the Packers like a finicky 8-year-old avoids broccoli.

The Packers' two prime-time appearances come on ESPN, which isn't much of an accomplishment when you consider the new version of "Monday Night Football" is allowing the likes of Oakland, New Orleans and Arizona onto the national airwaves.

The first of the prime-time games, Green Bay at Philadelphia on Oct. 2, will be watched on a national level by only those without a life or with a gambling problem. Heck, that game will make ESPN long for the good old days when the NHL brought viewership measuring in the dozens. The Packers and Eagles won a combined 10 games last season. Besides being lousy teams, they have one other thing in common. Packers receiver Javon Walker is talking his way into a trade while Terrell Owens already misbehaved his way out of Philly. Must-see TV? Hardly.

The second of the prime-time games, Green Bay at Seattle on Nov. 27, should make for good TV, but only if you enjoy Mike Holmgren giving looks of pity toward Brett Favre as the aged gunslinger flails away in futility against the defending NFC champions.

Sure, with NBC getting to pick and choose the Sunday night games beginning Nov. 12, the Packers might get another prime-time opportunity. The Dec. 31 game at Chicago would seem a good bet should Favre return for one final season, since that would be Favre's career finale.

Prime-time games are a sign that you matter on a national level. If Favre had retired already, the Packers' games might be moved to 9 a.m. Central time just to get them out of the way before the noon and 3:15 p.m. slates. As it is, from a national standpoint, a prime-time Packers game with Favre is a lot like an ugly crash scene. You know you shouldn't look, but you just can't help it.

Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

Packer Report Top Stories