Steelers playing in Thursday opener
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As part of the treasure the Steelers earned with their Super Bowl victory, the NFL will open the 2006 season with a nationally televised night game Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh.
This will be the fourth time the NFL has staged a Thursday night, one-game kickoff to the season. It will be the first NFL telecast of a regular-season game on NBC since that network was replaced in 1998 by CBS, the network for the AFC.
An opponent will be selected later, but the league will try to pair the most attractive team on the Steelers' home schedule. Among the possibilities are Cincinnati,
the AFC North Division champ who lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Steelers, and Denver, who lost the AFC championship game to them.
The NFL also holds various events around the game.
"Expectations are there will be kickoff events in conjunction with the game in Pittsburgh," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.
The past two years the game was held in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., with Elton John playing the venue two years ago, and Green Day and Ozzy Osbourne last year. The Thursday night kickoff became a tradition in Tampa Bay in 2002, when the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers played the New York Jets.
The NFL will follow the Thursday night opener with a full schedule of games Sunday. Aiello said the NFL also may schedule a Monday night doubleheader to close out kickoff weekend.
He also confirmed that the league is discussing a regular-season game that would be played in London next season.