SUPER BOWL CHAMPION COLTS HOST REGGIE BUSH AND THE SAINTS ON THURSDAY NIGHT "NFL KICKOFF" ON NBC
NFC RIVALS GIANTS AND COWBOYS KICK OFF "NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL"
NEW YORK � March 26, 2007 � Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning and the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts host Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints on the Thursday night "NFL Kickoff," Sept. 6 on NBC, it was announced today by the NFL. "NFL Kickoff Weekend" continues Sunday Night, Sept. 9 on NBC with a classic NFC clash between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium. The rest of the 2007 regular-season schedule will be completed and announced in April.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 6 - NFL KICKOFF 2007
New Orleans Saints at Indianapolis Colts (RCA Dome, Indianapolis, Ind.)
Super Bowl MVP QB Peyton Manning and the champion Indianapolis Colts host RB Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints, who played their first-ever Conference title game last season, falling to the Chicago Bears. Manning led the Colts to his first Super Bowl victory last season, defeating the Bears 29-17, and was named Super Bowl MVP.
"It's always great to have the first game of the season. It's not only the opening game, it's the only game," said John Madden, analyst, "NBC Sunday Night Football." "It's a great tradition that is beginning � when you win the Super Bowl, you get a lot of things and hosting the opening game in front of your fans is one of them. The Super Bowl Champs deserve to play in a special game.
"The New Orleans Saints, with the exciting year they had last year, are going to make this a great game to kick off the season."
In a tradition that began in 2004, the Super Bowl champions annually host the NFL Thursday night "NFL Kickoff" the following year.
The game features both starting quarterbacks from the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl in Manning and Saints QB Drew Brees who, along with the Saints' rookie standouts Bush and WR Marques Colston and RB Deuce McAllister, led the team to a 10-6 record last year and their first-ever NFC Championship game appearance.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 9 - WEEK ONE
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas)
The Dallas Cowboys, who suffered a devastating 21-20 Wild Card playoff loss last season to the Seattle Seahawks, host their NFC East rivals, the Giants, in the first "NBC Sunday Night Football" matchup of the season. The Cowboys, with Pro Bowler Tony Romo now entrenched at QB, look to rebound from their surprise early-round playoff exit while the Giants, who fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 23-20 in a Wild Card playoff, hope that QB Eli Manning can show some of the Super Bowl form of his big brother Peyton.
"Any time the Cowboys play a division rival at home, it's big," said Madden. "The Giants going into Texas Stadium for a big game is a great way to kick off 'Sunday Night Football.'"
"NBC Sunday Night Football" wrapped up its inaugural season averaging 17.5 million viewers, 1.2 million viewers better than ABC Monday Night Football in 2005 and the best viewership number for the network primetime NFL package in six years (18.5 million on ABC in 2000).
"NBC Sunday Night Football," the premier primetime game of the week, is preceded by the "Football Night in America" studio show, which kicks off NBC's regular season coverage each Sunday at 7 p.m. The unprecedented six-year NFL deal includes innovative flexible scheduling and continues through the 2011 season with Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012. NBC has assembled the most honored broadcast team ever: Joining Al Michaels, the commentator called "TV's best play-by-play announcer" by the Associated Press, and John Madden, the most honored NFL broadcaster of all time with 15 Emmy Awards, are Bob Costas, the most honored studio host of all time with 19 Emmy Awards, who hosts NBC's "Football Night in America" studio show alongside co-host Cris Collinsworth, the most honored studio analyst in history with six Emmy Awards; and analysts Tiki Barber, a three-time NFL Pro Bowler for the New York Giants, and Jerome Bettis, one of the most popular players in recent NFL history. "NBC Sunday Night Football" coverage also includes sideline and feature reporter Andrea Kremer, whom the Los Angeles Times has called "the best TV interviewer in the business of covering the NFL." Peter King, who covers the NFL for Sports Illustrated and is considered one of the country's foremost NFL reporters, serves as a reporter for the "Football Night in America" studio show.