The NFL Has Christmas Eve Booked

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The league has a slate of games including a night game.

It is Christmas Eve and, in the sports world, it is supposed to be quiet. But that is not the case for the National Football League which has a Christmas Eve Sunday night matchup in Denver with New England playing the Broncos. The National Football League generally avoids playing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But times and TV commitments have changed. There is a full slate of games including the night game and a Christmas Day contest. In 1955, the NFL pushed the Cleveland-Los Angeles and in 1960 Green Bay-Philadelphia league championship games to Monday December 26th. The NFL was stung by political criticism in 1971 after playing a pair of playoff games. It was the second game, a long overtime affair between Miami and Kansas City that was the problem. Allegedly families missed traditional Christmas Day dinners because people were too concerned with the game. The issue became so heated that one Kansas state legislator introduced a law calling on the NFL to ban Christmas Day games. The proposal went absolutely nowhere but the NFL didn’t take any chances. The league reworked the schedule and did not have any Christmas conflicts for years. Since then, no politician has introduced legislation barring the NFL or the NBA, the NHL or NCAA from playing on Christmas.

Sports generally does not take days off. The National Hockey League has shut down for three days. The National Basketball Association has nothing scheduled. College basketball will feature a Christmas Eve game from Hawaii. The NHL last scheduled games on Christmas Eve in 1971 and stopped playing Christmas Day games in 1972. The NHL even has a trade ban between December 19th and 28th of each season. The games must go on. It is on the schedule.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield warms up before an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)