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NFL scheduler Katz talks requests and complaints from teams

  • By NFL.com
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Working out the schedules of all 32 NFL teams can be difficult and once the schedules are released, Howard Katz, the NFL’s schedule maker, often feels the heat from coaches and players about the decisions he makes and the impact they have on their teams.

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"This is the annual ritual of finding out how stupid I am," Katz told the New York Times "We work for months and months in this room and 'What were they thinking?' It comes with the territory."

In January, teams submitted more than 70 blocked out days because of stadium availability as well as more than 100 requests regarding preferred start times and requests about playing at home during the holidays.

Teams in Florida will sometimes ask not to play at 1 p.m in September and October because they believe it is harder to sell tickets when the temperature is still high. While some coaches will submit the opposite request because the heat might be a competitive advantage for their own team.

In the south, Katz often sees requests not to schedule games in the north later in the season when the frigid cold takes over.

But the teams aren't the only ones pleading for schedule help from Katz, so are the television networks.

Katz meets with each of the networks that carry NFL games and receives requests from NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network for games they want to see in prime time.

When the NFL put the Jets at home on Rosh Hashana and the start of Yom Kippur in 2009, Katz heard about it from the team and members of the Jewish community.

"I heard from every rabbi -- 'How could you screw that up?' " Katz said.

The NFL recently moved the start of the Oakland Raiders-Miami Dolphins game in Miami on Sept. 16 up to 1 p.m. from 4:15 p.m. to give Jewish fans more time to be home before the holiday starts at sundown on Thursday.

After scheduling a matchup between John and Jim Harbaugh on Thanksgiving last season, the 49ers coach was upset about being away from home for the holiday. He and Katz spoke at the NFL Annual Meeting.

"I talked to him, then I talked to him the next day and then I talked to him the third day," Katz said. "He said, 'Now that I've met you, I don't hate you quite as much.' His brother said to me, 'That's as good as you’re going to do.' "

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