Dec 10, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) on the field after the game against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL thinks the Jets owe them for last season. No, they really did say that.

In explaining New York’s heavy early primetime schedule, the NFL’s vice president of broadcast planning, Mike North, said that after going all-in on Gang Green a season prior, New York owes the league. In explaining why, he said for Aaron Rodgers to only last four plays was “disheartening” for many in the league office who had put their chips into the middle of having the Jets as the previous season’s primetime darling.

Tempting fate again, the NFL has ensured that the Jets will be the first team since the 1970 merger to have six primetime games in the first 11 weeks. That includes two Thursday Night Football matchups and a trip across the pond to London.

But it’s more than just the Jets owing the league — it’s also the Aaron Rodgers effect.

There’s also some risk with that, but NFL VP of Broadcasting Onnie Bose told Adam Schein on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio Thursday that it also comes with a potentially high reward.

“Of course, there’s a risk,” Bose said. “But my analogy was when Peyton (Manning) went to the (Denver) Broncos. You know, he was coming off that neck injury; you know he was medically cleared, but you weren’t sure. Could he play? Could he play at that level? Could he take a hit?

“But you gotta lean in when it’s Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers — they’re must-see quarterbacks. And so, add in the New York market and add in, if the Jets are successful, or go on a playoff run or make the playoffs, the attention, not only in New York but nationwide, will be fantastic.

“So, we were fully all-in last year. I think we’re a little more balanced. They do get a lot of primetime early in the year, but I just think it’s natural. You always have the Jets and the Giants with the two markets and shared TV; they’re gonna get some share of national TV anyway.

“I think we feel good about it. We were trying to be strategic about where they land. You couldn’t avoid them. You couldn’t just say, ‘We’re not in on the Jets. We’re not in on Aaron Rodgers.'”

It remains to be seen if this gamble will pay off for the NFL. You saw what happened last year once Rodgers went down, and that led to Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian each being featured on primetime games — which is the exact opposite of what the NFL wanted.

However, the NFL hedged its bets. Two Jets’ games are guaranteed primetime slots on Thursday Night Football (Sept. 19 vs. New England and Oct. 31 vs. Houston, while the other two are placed in the Sunday Night Football flex window Oct. 20 vs. Pittsburgh and Nov. 17 vs. Indianapolis). This allows them to capitalize on early-season Jets hype but also provides an exit strategy if the team underperforms. The early focus on the Jets makes sense – if they succeed, they can always be flexed back into primetime later.

Only time will tell if the Jets can light up the primetime stage or leave the NFL feeling blue again. But everything points to the league’s willingness to take that risk yet again. It remains to be seen if that’s a good bet.

[Mad Dog Sports Radio on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.