John Mara, president, CEO, and co-owner of the New York Giants, whose family has owned the team since his grandfather founded it in 1925, asked the NFL to let his team skip its Monday Night game on September 26 against the Dallas Cowboys because it falls on the second night of Rosh Hashanah 5783.
The Giants have many Jewish fans the team doesn’t wish to insult and disappoint on the third week of the new season.
NFL teams often ask the league for date changes for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with scheduling issues and not holiday considerations. Teams would prefer back-to-back games on the coasts, for instance, to save on transportation costs. Team stadiums also host concerts and other major events, creating scheduling difficulties. And then there are the Jewish holidays.
Back in 2009, the NFL approved the NY Jets’ request to change the start of their September 20 home opener against the New England Patriots from 4:15 PM to 1 PM, in honor of Rosh HaShanah 5770. Then, too, it was the second night of Rosh HaShanah, so you had to wonder who exactly benefitted from the change, but it’s on the record, that the game was rescheduled in honor of the high holiday.
Howard Katz, the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting who is also responsible for the league’s scheduling, told the NY Post that the Giants’ owner “makes the same request every year. He’s always been extremely sensitive to his Jewish fans and goes out of his way every year to remind us and ask us to avoid Jewish holidays.”
However, according to Katz, “We are never able to accommodate every request. … In this particular case, we were not able to accommodate that request.”
Katz told the Post that there are several games scheduled for Christmas Day, which will fall on a Sunday, implying Jews aren’t the only religious group being inconvenienced. But Christians aren’t prohibited from watching TV or going to a game on Christmas the way Jews do on the high holidays.
Here’s another irritating thing: remember the scheduling change the NFL granted the Jets in 2009? Jets owner Woody Johnson sent a heartfelt letter thanking the man who made it possible: Howard Katz, the league’s senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations.