ASHBURN — If you didn’t know that the NFL will play a game on Black Friday next season, you wouldn’t be the only one.
Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera genuinely had no idea the league is expanding its slate to include the day after Thanksgiving. But it’s true. The NFL announced last month that the game will be broadcasted exclusively on Amazon, which a league executive touted as “uniquely positioned” to air the game because Black Friday is “one of the most important days of the year for their business.”
So get ready for some corporate synergy football.
“I mean if we were playing, I’m not shopping,” Rivera joked.
On Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys are annual staples of the holiday with the Lions getting the early slot and the Cowboys taking the late afternoon. And so if the NFL is determined to make its Black Friday game a yearly tradition — and we seem to be headed that way — then let’s have some fun with it.
If billionaire Jeff Bezos buys the Commanders, then Washington should absolutely be the team that plays annually on Black Friday. Wouldn’t that be a huge conflict of interest, you might ask, given Bezos founded Amazon?
No, the Commanders would just be “uniquely positioned.”
Ever since the Commanders confirmed owner Dan Snyder hired an investment bank to explore a sale of the team, Bezos has been strongly rumored to be a prospective buyer of the franchise. And Bezos did little to shut down those rumors earlier this month, telling CNN “we’ll just have to wait and see.” Football, he said, is his favorite sport.
There are other non-Bezos reasons Washington would make sense. The Commanders have historically been a draw when featured on Thanksgiving, playing on the holiday for four of the last seven years. That may appeal to the league, which could always boost the matchup by having the Commanders face the Eagles or some other marquee team.
Heck, the Commanders even have black jerseys now — something punted Tress Way noted when posed the possibility of playing on Black Friday. The team introduced the new alternates as part of the franchise’s rebrand this past February and will wear the uniforms for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.
“If we get to wear our black jerseys and it had to be a home game, then yeah, I feel like that’s doable,” Way said.
In New York last month, NFL chief media officer Brian Rolapp said for now, the league’s Black Friday game is only scheduled for 2023. But he added the intent is to have a game on the day “until it doesn’t work.”
Rolapp said a Black Friday game is an idea the league has had for a long time. He said the league didn’t shop the game to other broadcast partners, specifically negotiating with Amazon — which owns the league’s “Thursday Night Football” package.
“I won’t speak for them, but this is their Super Bowl,” Rolapp said of Amazon. “Black Friday is a pretty big day for what Amazon does. It seemed like a pretty good fit.”
It could be a pretty good fit for the Commanders, too.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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