The New York Giants will visit the Washington Redskins, and the New York Jets will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11, marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With the NFL and its locked-out players mired in negotiations over a new labor agreement, the league on Tuesday announced its 2011-12 schedule – assuming the season starts on time.
The regular season kicks off Thursday night, Sept. 8, when the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
The first Sunday features several high-profile games, including Indianapolis at Houston and Atlanta at Chicago. But much of the national focus will be on Washington and New York, the two cities most affected by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“That stadium is going to be full of emotion, not only the people from the area but in the entire country,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan, who will be matching wits with his brother, new Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. “The fact that it’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that’s where the focus should be, not me playing against my brother.”
The Redskins and Giants kick off at 1:15 p.m., with the Jets and Cowboys at 5:20 p.m.
New England travels to Miami and Oakland visits Denver for the opening Monday night doubleheader.
The final Sunday of the regular season falls on New Year’s Day, when all 16 scheduled games are between division rivals, enhancing the potential for playoff ramifications.
The regular season covers 17 weeks, with the opening round of the playoffs scheduled for Jan. 7-8 and the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
The NFL has expressed a desire to stretch the season to 18 games, one of the sticking points in the contentious fight between owners and players over a new labor agreement.
The two sides resumed court-ordered mediation on Tuesday in Minneapolis, with a federal judge’s decision expected soon on a request to immediately halt the lockout.
The two sides spent 16 days immersed in mediated talks in Washington without coming to an agreement, resulting in a class-action antitrust lawsuit filed by the players against the NFL and the league’s first work stoppage since 1987. They’ve recently spent about 20 hours over three days meeting in Minneapolis, with more discussions planned for today.
In a statement announcing next season’s schedule, the NFL did not provide any contingencies should negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement stretch into the fall.
“I’m confident we will have season,” Rex Ryan said Tuesday. “We’re going to be ready to play. Whenever they say, ‘OK, we’re going back to work,’ we’ll be ready to play.”
Among the other highlights of the schedule, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 23, one of two games outside the United States and the fifth consecutive year the NFL has played a regular-season game in London.
The Thanksgiving Day games are the Packers at Detroit, Miami at Dallas and San Francisco at Baltimore, when new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh faces his brother and Ravens coach John Harbaugh in the first meeting between sibling head coaches in NFL history.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt appeared briefly in municipal court in Jersey City, N.J., but entered no plea on charges of eluding an officer, hindering apprehension and obstructing governmental function. He was arrested last week after police said he drove his Porsche at 71 mph in a 55-mph zone and then led police on a chase. … About 25 locked-out Washington Redskins players gathered to put themselves through the first day of a two-day minicamp.