Could NFL eventually take over Christmas Day?

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There was a time, not so many decades ago, when it was considered inappropriate to watch professional football on Christmas Day.

Before long, without much imagination, it can be considered odd not to.

In addition to all the other things we learned this past weekend, it was that holiday football is still going great, and that pigskin and pigs in blankets are going great, as are touchdowns and roosters turkey, the sacks and stuffing, and quarter. downloads and arrangements.

While December 25th was largely the preserve of the NBA and the biggest names in basketball, that’s certainly no longer the case, and if an all-out battle for Santa’s favorite day emerges it will be an intriguing sports subplot for years to come. years.

With Christmas Day this year falling on a Sunday, the NFL played three games in the middle of the Yuletide swing, which raised some eyebrows and was, most observers imagine, a clear signal of intent.

Not just the Green Bay Packers, who kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Miami Dolphins. Or the Los Angeles Rams, who trashed Denver and also put Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett on the table. Or Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who remain in pole position in the NFC South with a narrow comeback win against the Arizona Cardinals.

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No, the biggest move was by the league itself, in the final stages of planning, to stick a tripleheader on a day it avoided for a long, long time. In fact, after making two postseason games on Christmas 1971 caused a national outcry and serious uproar, the NFL dropped the 25th until 1989.

Over the next few years he dipped his toe into the holiday frost and sometimes popped back out. With the NFL holding two games last year, one in 2020 and none in the previous two years, the NBA leaned heavily toward its biggest stars.

As of now, the Los Angeles Lakers have played on Christmas each of the last seven years, the Golden State Warriors each of the last 10, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have participated in ho-ho-hoops since 2018.

For a decade and a half, the NBA has booked five straight all-day games, with something to watch from opening presents to curling up on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. .

As of now, we can only guess what future plans might look like on both sides, but it seems increasingly unlikely that the “NBA owns Christmas” narrative will be allowed to stand.

“Christmas, when it falls on an NFL game day, we’ve had a lot of success there, all due respect to our friends in the NBA,” NFL vice president of broadcasting Mike North said in the ‘Buffalo radio station WGR earlier this year.

We’ll see how things play out over the next few years, but North has already said he expects two or three games in 2023, when Christmas Day falls on a Monday.

2024 may be a wash, given that the NFL has only played two Wednesday games in the past 74 years, once a season opener was moved to accommodate President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention and another during the height of COVID, when it is unpredictable. reigned

In two years, it could therefore be the last Christmas – at least for a long time – that the NBA has all to itself.

In 2025, a Boxing Day Thursday offers the chance to play all four days of the national holiday. In 2026, Christmas is on a Friday, providing another opportunity for a football-filled bank holiday weekend.

It becomes an interesting fight. The NBA will not give up its Christmas showcase, which is one of the most anticipated parts of its regular season and also considered a feather in the cap of the teams and stars selected to participate.

The biggest thing the NFL has working in its favor regarding games this time of year is that they have the inherent potential to be monumentally significant in terms of the postseason. The downside is that these things can be harder to predict than in basketball.

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When it was announced, the Rams-Broncos matchup looked a lot juicier than reality dictated. The other two games, however, especially the one that had Aaron Rodgers smiling at the prospect of improved postseason potential, both had serious implications.

All this leaves, as always, some questions, but not the same ones as there have been in the past. Right now, the pertinent inquiry doesn’t seem to be whether the NFL wants to be a part of your Christmases, more like how much help it wants to provide.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX i subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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