The NFL produced hundreds of thousands of potential schedules, considered hundreds, and eventually settled on the one that was released on Thursday night.
But for the first time in a few years there was an added challenge: Concert tours.
Mike North, the NFL’s vice president of broadcast planning, explained to the NFL Network that the league had to work around concert tours to put together the schedule. The three major acts he mentioned were Lady Gaga, Elton John and Bad Bunny.
COVID-19 cut out a lot of concert tours, and they’re back in full force now.
“It’s been a couple years since those musical acts have gotten to tour, so they’re all touring again now suddenly,” North said on NFL Network.
Elton John is playing NFL stadiums in Charlotte, San Francisco (or, more accurately, Santa Clara) and Atlanta among others this fall. Bad Bunny is doing shows at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas and SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in September. The NFL isn’t used to taking a backseat to anything or anyone, but they had to move things around to accommodate those big concerts.
So yes, if your team has a weird, long road trip in the middle of the season, blame Bad Bunny.
“The vice president of marketing or the stadium operator is like ‘Yeah, we’ve got to put this concert in here,'” North said on NFL Network. “The head coach says, ‘Hang on a second, I get it, but do not make me open two away or have a three-game road trip as a result.’
There are countless challenges in putting together an 18-week, 272-game NFL regular-season schedule. Even the NFL has to cede the stage to Elton John on occasion.