The New York Jets ended up with six standalone games on the 2023 NFL schedule.
One of those contests included the first-ever NFL Black Friday game on November 24 against the Miami Dolphins. However, there was a chance that a different NFL team took the Jets’ place instead.
The Vice President of NFL Broadcast Planning, Mike North, explained on a call with the media on Friday, May 12 that the Cincinnati Bengals volunteered to make history.
“The Cincinnati Bengals actually raised their hand and volunteered and said, ‘We’d be happy to host the first Black Friday game,'” North revealed via Ben Baby of ESPN. “‘In fact, we’d be happy to make this a tradition. How about Black Friday in Cincinnati every year?’ I’m sure that will be something we explore moving forward.”
Amazon Made the Final Decision on NFL Black Friday Game
Despite the Bengals’ voluntary gesture, Amazon played a huge role in the decision-making process at the end of the day.
North revealed that Amazon, who is set to distribute the Black Friday game via Prime Video, “reached out to the league” and made their interest known that they’d like to have “one of the NFL’s New York teams involved in the inaugural Black Friday game,” per ESPN.
The thought process was for Amazon to combine its own role as a “giant retailer” and the Black Friday game concept in the “top retail market in the country” as a way to “introduce” this inaugural game into the football universe.
The other game that was heavily in consideration for the Black Friday game was between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, per North.
Interestingly part of the Bengals’ pitch could come into play in the future.
Not only did Cincinnati volunteer to participate in the first-ever Black Friday game, but they offered to do it every year. That was a concept that Mike North admitted the league would consider “moving forward.”
Jets Earned Bump in Prime-Time Games in 2023
In 2022 the Jets only had one prime-time game on the schedule. It was a Week 16 matchup versus the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Heading into that schedule-making process last offseason, the VP of NFL Broadcast Planning Mike North said if the Jets wanted more prime-time games in the future that they would have to earn it.
“Yeah look that was a good football team [the Jets] last year,” North explained on the official Jets Podcast with Eric Allen on Friday, May 12. “I know maybe quarterback play was disappointing but rookie of the year, I mean it’s a good football team. You were certainly going to find yourselves on national television quite a bit anyway. Just think about the schedule you had whether it was Philadelphia or Kansas City or any of the division opponents.”
However, on top of the Jets earning some love they also bought some more with a blockbuster trade.
“Trading for a four-time NFL MVP, future first-ballot Hall of Famer, that’s another way to find yourself on the national television schedule,” North told EA. “Look the Jets were going to be well represented in national windows obviously signing [Aaron] Rodgers kind of upped the ante a little bit. Maybe went from let’s say two or three to closer to five or six and then you throw in some 4:25 [pm ET] doubleheader games on Sunday afternoon. Yeah, there are going to be a lot of Jets on national television, please be good.”
That last comment by North is well-earned by the Jets. The NFL hasn’t trusted Gang Green in the national window only giving them 10 prime-time games since 2017 which is the fourth fewest in the league, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.
In addition to a lack of appearances, the Jets haven’t delivered in the games they have been featured in. Cimini revealed that the Jets are in the midst of an active eight-game losing streak in prime-time games dating all the way back to 2018.