America's Team Flexed Into Prime Time

TV's never been better.

Jim Rome
December 10, 2020 - 9:29 am
Baker Mayfield

USA Today

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Let me take you behind the curtain for a moment and talk about the media and broadcasting business. Not to get too inside baseball here, but at certain points in the season, the NFL starts flexing games.

That’s the lingo for moving a game from when it was originally scheduled, maybe at 1pm Eastern, to a primetime slot. And the reason behind that is to move a team that is playing very well into a primetime slot and a bad team out of that spot. And the reason behind that is simple: ratings. If you’ve got a bigger and better game in a primetime slot, it’s going to get bigger and better ratings.

A lot of fans don’t notice these moves because they aren’t studying game times weeks in advance, especially if it doesn’t involve their favorite team. So many flexes go by without a lot of national attention.

But not the flex that was announced yesterday. Because yesterday the NFL announced a flex. Not just a flex, but the ultimate flex.

The Cleveland Browns were scheduled to face the New York Giants at 1pm Eastern on Sunday, December 20th. That game has now been moved. It will now be played at 8:20pm Eastern on Sunday, December 20th. Primetime.

That means that the Browns will be hosting the Ravens on Monday night and then going to New York to play on Sunday night. Back to back primetime games.

You say prime time, I say about time. I say, what took you so long?

As in, it’s about time they started getting that respect. About time that everyone else started to acknowledge what’s been happening in Cleveland.

Critics and pop culture historians like to say that the Golden Age of television, Peak TV, started in 1999 with The Sopranos. That’s wrong. That was just a precursor. The Real Golden Age of Television, the Peak of Peak TV, starts this Monday night and it runs at least until the following Sunday night.

The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, they’re all fine. But they were just the warm-up act for the Cleveland Browns.

But of course the way that flexing goes, if the Browns are going into that time slot, that means that someone is coming out of it. A game previously scheduled for the night of Sunday December 20th is now going to be played in the afternoon.

And that game is San Francisco at Dallas, which will now be at 1pm ET on CBS. In other words, the Dallas Cowboys have been moved out of primetime so that America’s Team can move in.

Hell to the yes.

And let’s be very clear about what’s happening here: Dallas isn’t being flexed out, the Browns are being flexed in. This isn’t about moving the Cowboys out of primetime, it’s about moving the Browns into it.

It’s about Roger Goodell and the rest of the league strapping itself to the juggernaut that is the Cleveland Browns and saying, we want to ride with you. We want some of that action. Let us in.

This has nothing to do with the Cowboys record and everything to do with the Browns record. Because believe me, the nation loves watching the Dallas Cowboys, no matter how good or bad they are. And they might even enjoy watching them even more when they’re terrible. They are a national brand, they are an international brand. Especially when they suck. And right now, they’ve never looked worse. Believe me, none of us can take our eyes off a trainwreck. And the Cowboys are the ultimate trainwreck right now.

So this isn’t about the league seeing the Cowboys puke all over themselves on Tuesday night and thinking, crap, we’ve got to hide these guys. We’ve got to make sure nobody sees them. Hell no.

It was about the league seeing what the Browns did to the Titans on Sunday and throughout the year and saying, the country needs more of this. They need more of Baker Mayfield catching passes out of the backfield.

They need more of big men scoring big touchdowns.

And they need more quick strike offense. 

That’s what it’s about.

And some dopes are going to make tired “2020” jokes. They’re going to say how 2020 that the Cowboys are being flexed out and the Browns are being flexed in. Wrong.

A terrible take on so many levels, starting with the flawed idea that the moment January 1st rolls around, everything will magically be awesome just because you flipped over a page on the calendar. 

Everyone needs to recognize that the Browns being brought into primetime isn’t some weird fluke that can only be attributed to the fact this has been a relentless junk punch of a year. It’s not another sign that things have been wacky. IT’S NOT A 2020 THING. 

It’s a sign that people are finally getting their heads on straight and recognizing what they have on their hands with the Browns.

Yes, I am aware of the symbolism of two of the biggest brands in sports, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, two of the most iconic and legendary organizations in the league, being moved out so the Browns can move in. That is not lost on me. I’m just not using it as another sign that this has been THE MOST BIZARRE YEAR EVER. 

I’m using it as a sign that justice does still get served. That quality still does get recognized. That the cream still rises to the top. That people are living in the present and no longer living in the past.

And of course the team took it in stride. They aren’t planning a parade. They aren’t shocked. They just announced the news on twitter with the following message: Sunday night under the lights. Our Week 15 matchup with the Giants has been flexed to Sunday Night Football

And then chased that with the legendary meme of Paul Rudd saying “hey, look at us”

Perfect. Clever. I’ll go a step beyond, “hey look at us.”

I’ll say again, it’s about time. And one more thing: you people are lucky the Browns agreed to this.

Everyone listening should hit their knees tonight and give thanks for the Cleveland Browns and for the good fortune to be on the planet at this time. To be living in a golden age when the Browns are in primetime in back to back weeks.

And while you’re at it, while you’re saying thank you FOR the Browns, make sure you also say thank you TO the Browns. Because they are generous and gracious

You are lucky they are allowing you to see them in primetime in back to back weeks. Because I wouldn’t have blamed the Browns if they said, nope. We’re not doing it.

If you didn’t love us at our worst, you don’t deserve us at our best. If you didn’t love us when we were 0-1, you don’t deserve us when we’re 9-3. YOU’RE LUCKY THEY EVEN PEFORM FOR YOU BASTARDS, LEAVE BAKER ALONE!!!

So you better make sure that you say thank you.