Are the NFL schedules set by a "little old lady in flyover country"?
February 12, 2007 12:58 PM   Subscribe

NFL Urban Legend: Is it true that the NFL schedules are set by a "little old lady in flyover country"?

Back in college (early '90s) my friend who knew a lot about sports (and was in fact an aspiring sportscaster) used to swear that the NFL schedules are set each year by "some little old lady in flyover country." She is told which teams need to play each other, and other things about the way games need to occur (e.g. the Giants and Jets can't play home games on the same Sunday), but beyond that, she sets the match-ups.

The idea was that because she was just some old lady with no connections to any of the teams, that she would be incorruptible.

I distinctly remember discovering somewhere along the way that this preposterous story turned out to be true and that we were all obliged to apologize to the guy.

But now, here we are almost 20 years later and I can't find any evidence that this story is true now, nor ever was true.

Has anyone ever heard this before?
posted by llamateur to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm pretty sure they use a formula.
posted by dead_ at 1:04 PM on February 12, 2007

Well, we know that there's a formula that determines which teams have to play each other, but as far as working out the logistics of which games happen when... that's more of what we're looking for.
posted by llamateur at 1:08 PM on February 12, 2007

From this page:
    Fester from Green Cove Springs, FL: You often refer to the “NFL schedule-maker” as if it’s one person. Is it just one person that makes the schedule? If so, how long has this person been doing it? Vic: For many years, it was a fellow named Val Pinchbeck, who was the NFL’s director of broadcasting. Val passed away a few years ago. He was a great guy; one of the friendly left-overs from the Pete Rozelle era. The schedule-maker now is a group of people in the broadcasting department. The job of coordinating the schedule with television is much too difficult these days for one man to run the show.

posted by dead_ at 1:13 PM on February 12, 2007

And more here:

Pinchbeck served as the main League liaison on television and radio with the 30 teams as well as the various networks who telecast (ABC, FOX, NBC, ESPN, TNT) and broadcast (CBS Radio) NFL games. He was directly involved in the negotiations of the NFL network television contracts in 1982, 1987, 1990 and again in 1994.

Pinchbeck has also been one of the people responsible for the construction of the NFL playing schedule each year.

posted by dead_ at 1:15 PM on February 12, 2007

Thanks for the research!

Hmm, I wonder if the fact that the guy's name is "Val", a traditionally female name, fed the "little old lady" part of the myth.

Searching on Val Pinchbeck, I also found this good page.
posted by llamateur at 1:27 PM on February 12, 2007

You might be conflagrating the husband and wife team that used to schedule baseball.
posted by dizzycow at 1:33 PM on February 12, 2007

Oh, I do hope not. You can get arrested for conflagrating people. Conflating them is much safer.
posted by flabdablet at 2:18 PM on February 12, 2007

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