Which network gets Peyton’s season opener?

Oh, to witness the scrambling within the networks to see which one lands Peyton Manning’s regular-season debut with Denver.

Talk about backroom politics.

Manning’s first game will be the biggie from week 1 in the NFL. It will be quite a sight to see No. 18 in an orange uni playing in a game that counts.

The schedules will be announced today with both the NFL Network and ESPN having special reports tonight.

NBC already has the NFL opener with Giants-Dallas on Sept. 5. I’d have to say Al Michaels and company will be the leading contender to land the game with Eli’s brother.

The NFL has to want Peyton’s debut in prime time. The ratings should be huge. And it just feels like a Sunday night game. Besides, it would allow NBC to hype the heck out of it during the Giants game earlier in the week, not to mention during the three-plus weeks of the Olympics.

Sorry, ESPN. And you too, CBS, which will get plenty of shots at Manning with the AFC package.

However, here’s one thing to consider: Is Manning truly healthy? What if you commit to Denver for the Sunday night opener and Manning is sitting in the press box? That would take considerable appeal off this game. I just looked at Denver’s roster and saw Caleb Hanie’s on it. Trust me, from living in Chicago, no network wants to see Hanie in prime time.

Still, I’m guessing that the NFL will take the gamble that Manning will be on the field for game 1. His presence will make the winning network very happy.





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