The NFL is facing a number of scheduling problems as it prepares to release its 2002 schedule any day now. One of those problems isn't as important to them as it is to the Vikings, but it has history behind it.
The Vikings could be a victim of perceived lack of fan interest, as they are a candidate to be removed from the 2002 Monday Night Football schedule.
The NFL is toying with the idea of not scheduling Monday Night Football for the final four weeks of the season and scheduling them after Week 10 to pick the best potential playoff matchup. If that's true, the number of scheduled MNF games drops to 13. Throw in that VU has been told the MNF opener is scheduled to be a rematch of the Steelers and Patriots from the AFC title game, plus the Vikings bye week, and you have been reduced to 11 possible dates for a Vikings game on Monday prime time.
Our league source told us the Vikings have been a ratings winner the past few years and have played well, going 5-3 since 1998. However, the Vikings were a popular MNF selection in recent years because of their record in the year preceding their schedule. This time around, the Vikings may have to "coattail on a rivalry game."
VU is being told the best chance is to have a Monday night game against an established NFC Central team like the Bears or Packers. Otherwise the Vikings may be out of the MNF mix for the first time since 1986 -- the longest streak in the NFL for any team.
Don't think loyalty means anything. Prior to the Vikings having the longest streak on MNF, Oakland had played at least once every eyar since the program began in 1970 through 1997. But, a couple of bad years and the Raiders were banned in 1998. The 49ers were next and had played on MNF every year from 1982 to 1999, but a bad 2000 season without Jerry Rice and Steve Young and the Niners streak ended, so keep your fingers crossed for the Vikes and the new rivalries of the NFC North.
* The Vikings continue to look to re-tool their defensive front. DL Shane Burton of the Jets is scheduled to arrive in the Twin Cities Sunday night.
* The team has also firmed up a date for Colts WR Jerome Pathon to visit. He is scheduled at Winter Park Monday to visit with players and coaches.
Vikings Face MNF Ban
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