Tony Romo‘s abrupt retirement didn’t just cost Houston a potentially massive upgrade at quarterback.

Romo’s decision to leave the gridiron for the broadcast booth might have also cost the Texans an appearance in the NFL Kickoff Game, which will instead feature the Chiefs at the Patriots in the season’s high-profile opener.


Appearing on Friday’s edition of Good Morning Football, NFL Senior Director of Broadcasting Mike North stressed that his committee gave “zero” thought to Romo’s broadcasting career, but closely monitored the Texans and Broncos as potential landing spots throughout March.

“We were looking at our schedule,” North explained, “and thinking to ourselves, ‘What happens if tomorrow we all wake up and we read somebody’s Twitter feed and Romo’s the quarterback of the Texans? What, then, would we change in our approach to this schedule?’

“The Houston at New England game, for instance. Right now it’s a 1:00 CBS game, probably going to be on in 25 percent of the country. If that were Romo-Brady, I’m not sure only 25 percent of the country should see that game. Heck, that game maybe could have been Kickoff if Tony signed early enough.”

The Texans weren’t alone in their missed opportunity for extra cachet. What if Romo had signed with Denver and led his new team into battle against his old Dallas club?

“If Romo went to the Broncos,” North pointed out, “all of the sudden that Cowboys-Broncos game (Week 2, 4:25 p.m.) becomes a whole different animal.”

As Michael MacCambridge wrote in America’s Game, the league takes advantage of the “episodic nature” of its 20-week schedule.

The NFL is the most engrossing serial on prime-time television, with marquee quarterbacks starring as the lead actors each week.

Minus Romo’s box-office appeal, the Texans and Broncos will enter the season as relative afterthoughts, with Tom Savage and Trevor Siemian playing supporting roles to complement headlining defenses.

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