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Fossum: NFL to Raiders – Lights, camera, action . . .

Fossum: NFL to Raiders – Lights, camera, action . . .

Tonight’s game marks the first national prime-time appearance for the Raiders in 2017. It will be a spot they see several times this year. That’s no accident.

At first glance, the Raiders vs. Redskins seems like just another nondescript matchup among the 256 regular-season games contested each year in the 32-team National Football League. Dig deeper to discern much, much more about what the schedule-makers think of the Raiders’ rebirth and reemergence to prominence and must-see TV.

Once the winningest franchise by percentage in all of pro sports and a media darling with unprecedented success as a Monday Night Football staple, the Raiders have been about as public as a Hillary email in recent years, barely barging onto the national scene as part of a doubleheader game, never mind assuming the role of prime-time player.

Las Vegas Raiders Report Crowbar

Join the LV Raiders Report live at the Crowbar for Raider Nation watch party starting at 5:30pm.

Tune in to NBC at 5:30 p.m. Sunday (or join Las Vegas Raiders Report at the Crowbar, 6851 W. Flamingo Road) and you’ll get a glimpse at how vastly the team’s stature has ascended in the minds of those who matter most – the people who market the league.

It will be “Back to the Future” when Oakland and its big-screen performers take center stage against the Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Md. The intriguing interleague game will mark the first of five times the Raiders will assume the role of leading actor this season — nearly twice the total of the past two years combined, and the maximum allowed by the league.

…the Raiders have been about as public as Hillary’s email in recent years, barely barging onto the national scene as part of a doubleheader game, never mind assuming the role of prime-time player.

The Raiders had only one prime-time game in 2015, and just two last year. With five nationally televised night games this season — plus four national doubleheader games in living color — it’s fitting that no team will gain greater exposure than the one that will soon move to the Entertainment Capital of the World. Don’t think the NFL hasn’t thought of that . . .

Perhaps no one will be better rewarded by the Raiders this season than four people you’ve probably never heard of — Howard Katz, Michael North, Blake Jones and Charlotte Carey.

Raiders Sunday Night Football

Raiders return to prime-time television with tonight’s Redskins slate.

The four league executives oversee the designation of times and locations of the games once computers at league headquarters spew out evaluation of data designed to establish the fairest and most equitable schedule possible. Essentially, when it comes time to raise the curtain, it’s up to Katz, senior vice president of broadcasting; North, senior director of broadcasting; Jones, director of broadcasting; and Carey, manager of broadcasting, to choose the dates, times and locations.

With Chiefs at Oakland, Thursday, Oct. 19; Raiders at Miami, Sunday, Nov. 5; Cowboys at Oakland, Sunday, Dec. 17; and Raiders at Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 25 (milk and cookies for Santa!), you’ll get more than Pittsburgh, Packers and Patriots in 2017. For all the glory local Fox 5 will enjoy in Southern Nevada as the Raiders’ official television network, more than half of the team’s games will be seen elsewhere when the sun goes down, i.e., CBS, NBC, ESPN and the NFL Network.

Before NFL broadcast execs dissected the data to determine who, what and where deserved top billing, massive motherboards considered the following:

  • Each team will play the other three teams in its division twice – once at home and once on the road, accounting for six of its 16-game schedule;
  • Each team will play teams in another division from its conference on a rotating basis, ensuring it will face each division in its conference every three years;
  • Each team will play one game against each of four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating basis, meaning it will play every team from every division in the other conference every four years;
  • Each team will play two games against opponents from the two remaining divisions in its conference depending on results of the previous season. For example, a first-place team will play against other first-place finishers from the other two divisions.

The intangible factors in need of review in trying to satisfy everybody – or anybody – are unimaginable. Included are the fans, the teams, bye weeks, travel, the networks and conflicting events. The league is so
cognizant of who it casts in starring roles, it instituted “flex” scheduling in 2006 to ensure that the best and most meaningful matchups at the end of the season are broadcast to the largest audiences.

That means prime time — like Sunday night in the nation’s capitol — as if there’s not enough must-see TV going on in D.C.

Or, maybe because there is.

Former longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports Editor Jim Fossum brings nearly 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Las Vegas Raiders Report. Fossum is the site's senior columnist and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus. Recently retired, the 1980 Northern Arizona University graduate began his 25-year Review-Journal career in January 1981 as tennis, golf and football beat writer. He was lead writer for the annual Alan King/Caesars Palace Tennis Classic, featuring Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg; all three of Las Vegas’ major professional golf tour stops as a longtime member of the Golf Writers Association of America; and the celebrated “Randall Cunningham Era” of UNLV football. Also a copy editor and page designer who became R-J sports editor at age 33 shortly after covering UNLV in the 1991 Final Four, Fossum was named Nevada Sportswriter of the Year in 1998 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Winner of numerous writing awards from the Nevada Press Association, his reporting experience includes ringside coverage of several of boxing’s most anticipated world championship prize fights, including the highlight of his career -- the September 1981 world welterweight title bout between Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesars Palace. Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Larry Bird are among the many superstars he has interviewed, in addition to helping document the careers of Las Vegans Andre Agassi and Greg Maddux. Honored with numerous community service awards from local charitable organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the American Cancer Society, Fossum was cited in the late 1990s by the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to local athletics. A longtime member of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), he helped oversee the organization’s annual West Regional Convention for several years at various Las Vegas Strip resorts. He helped recruit APSE’s national convention to the MGM Grand in 2006 after annually attending weeklong seminars at many of the country’s largest and most respected major dailies. In 2005, he was honored with Lake Havasu High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award and delivered his alma mater’s Class of 2006 commencement speech 30 years after graduating. Review-Journal sports editor for 16 years, Fossum retired to the Oregon Coast at age 48 in January 2006. Most recently, he was founder/publisher/editor of OregonCoastSports.com (previously SportsLincolnCounty.com), an independent website dedicated to area youth. He also worked at two weekly community newspapers (Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard) as section editor, reporter, photographer and page designer.

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