The long awaited National Football League schedule is out, and Denver Broncos fans and media who cover the team join their counterparts throughout the nation in savoring the excitement of this new beginning.
Fans will start to plan travel to see road games if opportunity and finances can marry.
Season ticket holders begin to look at which games require cold weather clothing, and which need sunscreen. All fans are marking the dates on their calendars, planning parties, get togethers with friends, and the like.
The media can begin to put together their budgets—in the media world, this means two things. One, the budget like we all have, determining the costs of airline tickets and road hotels, which days of the week offer slightly better air fares than others.
But the other use of the term "budget" in the media involves how the pages and minutes are divided up for coverage. Do the Broncos play in the day on Sunday afternoon, or at night? Is overtime needed to cover it all? Which day's papers will cover the games? How about the newscasts? Do the Broncos play any games that conflict with college games, baseball, basketball, hockey? How much space gets divided up?
There is little outside of the playing of games themselves to match two things in the world of the NFL—the annual draft, which is just around the corner, and the schedule.
Talk show hosts will spend a lot of time debating which big game will be tougher, the relative merits of Denver's schedule vs. that of the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.
But I want to remind everyone not to worry much about the schedule.
It is what it is. And above all, it provides the opportunity to be used as a stepping stone to a team goal, which is always a championship.
Broncos Head Coach John Ralston once said, "Your schedules are like your kids. You might as well love them, because this is your family." No give backs or exchanges on the schedule.
When I was early in my NFL PR career, I once asked another coach what he thought of our schedule compared to that belonging to one of our division opponents.
He took a look at both, and said, "Gee, it looks like we each have eight home games and eight away."
A great comment.
It is ALWAYS more about how you prepare and play. Not who you play, when you play, where you play or what time you play.
We have the schedule, and we know what time each game starts. So the task is to get ready, one detail at a time.
Many times in the past, when I have watched someone scurry and run to make the team bus on time, I have commented that the schedule came out in April. We knew in April that this day would come, this time would come. We had a long time, months actually, to get to that bus on time.
The bus, of course, is symbolic. It is just one of the details. The point is, we have a schedule. Every piece of the puzzle can now be filled in, and when you put all the pieces together, you have an opportunity. A chance.
There is nothing like having a chance with great talent. The Broncos have both, and the schedule is another big step in beginning to put all the puzzle pieces together.
But make sure you put the focus on what you can control.
Preparation and execution at the highest level always give you a great chance to win, far more than who, when or what time you play.