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Sacco Sez: The schedule is what you make of it


After a great deal of anticipation, the 2021 NFL schedule has been released.

In Denver, as in every other NFL city, this is the big story of the day.

From early in the morning, there was widespread speculation about who is playing where, and when and which team has an advantage over the other.

The answer is none of that means anything.

The NFL schedule is two-fold regarding how it is looked at. There are the coaches and players, more on that a bit later, and there are the fans and media.

While the former deals directly with wins and losses, the latter is vitally important as well.

Fans make the game, and our television partners and all our reporters promote it and bring it to America via television and a vast array of journalism and social media forums.

Excitement is created and stimulated, and the game would not be the same without its fans and the media.

It doesn't really matter who you play, where you play or what time you play. What matters the most is how you play, each and every week.

I have heard and read a great deal about who has the toughest and easiest schedules. That is all baloney, as any coach or executives knows all too well.

There is nothing worse than assuming you are better than your opponent or that he cannot defeat you, based on the team the other guys had last year.

As the great coach Chuck Knox used to say, last year's record is a cancelled check, next year is a promissory note and this season is cash.

This moment is cash.

I remember once upon a time, I showed our schedule and that of the Kansas City Chiefs to Head Coach Mike Shanahan and asked him his opinion of the respective schedules.

Mike took a cursory glance at the two schedules and said, "It looks like we each have eight at home and eight away."

In other words, each game is an opportunity to win or lose, and it is what you make of it each day.

Of course, the one big difference in that scenario this year is that, for the first time in NFL history, some teams have nine at home (like the Broncos) and some have eight.

Legendary Patriots coach Bill Belichick, when asked about a long streak that his team had recorded over a particular foe, would point out that these are not the same players as in the past, on either side, the weather could be a huge variable, and he had no idea who would be injured, on either side, before game time.

I am reminded of the words of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who famously said, "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man."

When the Denver Broncos had our tremendous back-to-back Super Bowl run, I remember never being too concerned about the opponent.

It was all about our own execution.

And our execution was being led by Hall of Famers John Elway, Gary Zimmerman, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe on offense, and by Hall of Famer Steve Atwater on defense, among others.

Every week we prepared to win, and just about every week, we did win.

Let all the pundits suggest which team is better than another, who will win at home or lose on the road, who has the advantage of good health or the misfortune of injury.

Focus, prepare, practice and play.

The schedule will be there every week, until that last game in February.

Putting one's focus on the moment is the best way to get to that final game, regardless of the schedule in between.

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