NFL put Bucs-Patriots in Week 4 so story can be about Tom Brady’s return

When the NFL unveiled the schedule for the 2021 season last week, it showed that the most anticipated game on the slate will take place on Sunday night in Week 4.

That is when Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will head to Gillette Stadium to face his former team for the first time. NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz told Peter King of Football Morning in America that each network “lobbied for that game” and that early iterations of the schedule didn’t have it on Sunday night.

Once it did land there, vice president of broadcast planning Mike North said the league put the game in an early slot means the story of the game won’t be about “playoff implications” and is less likely to be about anybody missing due to injury.

“The story can be about Brady’s return,” North said. “It would be different if Tom’s standing on the 50-yard line watching a tribute video in November in six inches of snow. Or, the later in the season we go, the more likely somebody’s injured. Getting in early, having that story told, made some sense.”

It’s a story that most of the football world will be interested in watching and they won’t have to wait for weeks and weeks to see how it plays out.