2005 Schedule Announced Today

The NFL will make a TV production of releasing its 2005 schedule this afternoon -- actually re-broadcasting the production later in the day on its NFL Network.

There were people who thought the NFL was nuts when it began broadcastings its rookie draft -- something that has become a near-pilgrimage for football fans since. That being said, don't expect lightning to strike twice today.

The NFL will release its 2005 schedule at 1 p.m. local time today in a two-hour broadcast on NFL Network that will include top broadcasters from the three major networks that carry the NFL. It will also be rebroadcast at 5 p.m. local time for those who didn't TiVO the event the first time around.

The Vikings are hoping for better treatment than they received last year, when they were given three prime-time road games and one of those -- a Monday nighter at Indy -- came the week before the Vikings had to go on the road to play the Packers (with the Pack coming off their bye week).

VU will pass along the schedule when it becomes available and have a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly for tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY NOTES
* For those who were outraged with a Christmas Eve Friday game last year, get ready to be really upset this year. In Week 16, there will be 13 games played on Christmas Eve (a Saturday), two on Christmas Day and the final Monday night game of the season on the 26th.
* The NFL has invited just six players to appear live at the draft in New York City. They are quarterbacks Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, running backs Ronnie Brown and Cedric Benson, wide receiver Braylon Edwards and cornerback Antrel Rolle.
* Three Vikings started games last weekend in NFL Europe. Left guards Shannon Snell and Brandon Newton started opposite one another last weekend -- Snell for the Berlin Thunder and Newton for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Punter Travis Dorsch had four punts for 165 yards for the Rhein Fire.
* The City of Mankato has agreed to spend $25,000 to be an official sponsor of the Vikings training camp each of the next three years.
* The league announced it will do stricter drug testing to test for inflated testosterone levels in players. A recent "60 Minutes" expose of the Panthers showed that some players have a greatly increased level of testosterone, which could be the result of taking human growth hormone or a designer steroid.
* Defensive tackle Ellis Johnson canceled a scheduled trip to Winter Park today as he tries to finalize a deal with the Texans.

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