Release of regular-season NFL schedule delayed

Fans anxious to begin making plans for the 2007 NFL regular-season schedule will have to wait a little longer.

A league official confirmed Monday that the much-anticipated announcement of the regular-season schedule, originally set for Thursday, will be delayed. The schedule could be released as early as next week now, with the roll-out coming no later than April 19.

The delay was first reported by NFL.com, the league-owned Web site.

The league did announce its full preseason schedule on Monday afternoon.

Last week, at its annual meetings in Phoenix, the NFL unveiled its nationally televised opening week matchups for Sept. 6-10 and its three Thanksgiving Day games. The regular season kicks off Sept. 6 when the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts host the New Orleans Saints.

The NFL tentatively planned to roll out the rest of the regular-season schedule during a two-hour bloc on the NFL Network on Thursday afternoon. But an NFL official suggested to ESPN.com last week in Phoenix that a delay of that Thursday broadcast was likely, because there was still considerable work to be completed on the schedule.

The NFL designs its regular-season schedule without using computers and the process, given the longstanding priority on maintaining competitive balance, is an arduous task.

One notable change that first-year commissioner Roger Goodell has made is to solicit more input. For instance, long-time NFL general manager Ernie Accorsi, who retired from the New York Giants earlier in the offseason, recently visited the NFL offices to peruse the schedule.