There were a lot of surprises coming out of the NFL's announcement that CBS had picked up half of the package for Thursday Night Football. That Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are suddenly, primarily moved to a primetime package without as much Sunday work. That CBS won it at all, even though you would argue NBC and Fox needed the primetime ratings boost, especially on Thursdays.
The biggest one, and the most pleasant one, to me is the return of Saturday NFL games. Though NFL Network and, two seasons ago, ESPN have occasionally played on Saturday in recent years, and the league had to play on Saturday due to Christmas a couple of years ago, the NFL has been largely dormant on Saturdays since the early 00s. That's a shame, in my opinion.
For many, many years, after the end of college football season, the NFL would sort of take its place on Saturdays in December. It would usually amount to an early afternoon game and a late afternoon game on both the regular AFC or NFC networks. Towards the end of the arrangement, ESPN was able to get in with some games, too.
Once the new agreement in 2005 came about, the NFL has mostly been without Saturday NFL games, save for the occasional NFL Network or ESPN game. One of the more famous Saturday night games happened in 2007. The New England Patriots completed their 17-0 season over their future Super Bowl usupers, the New York Giants.
That game had a massive fuss about it airing on the NFL Network, to the point where NBC and CBS were both allowed to simulcast the game. I was working the game, as part of my experience as a Giants Stadium usher, but I'm pretty sure the local affiliate in New York (WPIX or WWOR) got to air it too. It was a ratings smash for all of them.
Some of my earliest memories of football are Saturday afternoon games. Because they shared a stadium (I assume) the NFL would put the Giants and Jets on Saturday afternoons somewhat frequently. I think the NFL sort of lost a little something when they stopped playing on Saturdays.
It's good to see that as part of this new deal, we'll see a Saturday Week 16 doubleheader on NFL Network. Even if it's a 4:30/8 p.m. ET-style doubleheader, it'll be a return to a good thing the league had going for quite sometime. It may be a silly thing to feel nostalgic about, but I'm weirdly happy to see it back.