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Bills Monday Night Game Has Little Risk for ESPN

I wasn't so sure a few weeks ago that the Buffalo Bills signing of controversial superstar Terrell Owens would lead to more prime time exposure for the NFL team.

In fact, I doubted it because historically the league doesn't change its prime time plans for one player, who may be sidelined by the time the scheduled game is played.

That said, the decision to start the Bills season on ESPN's Monday Night Football Sept. 14 opposite the New England Patriots makes sense because of the lowered risk involved.

Since it is the Bills opener, they can't have a lousy record then that could turn off potential viewers. And since Owens isn't known for doing heavy lifting in the preseason, his chances of being injured should be substantially reduced as well.

Most importantly, the Bills really can be viewed as a secondary consideration to the Patriots, a storied franchise in recent years that will be welcoming back quarterback Tom Brady from last season's injury and who have their own superstar receiver in Randy Moss.

It is hard to say if the Bills-Pats game would have been part of the NFL's 50th annual celebration of the American Football League even if Owens wasn't involved. But his signing added to the game's attraction.

I've heard speculation on the radio that suggests the Bills could get as many as three prime time appearances because of the signing of Owens. I'm not buying it. There's just about no chance that they would make NBC's Sunday Night Football schedule, which favors winning teams from the year before.

I figure one more game on Monday night or a game on the NFL Network prime time package would be about right.What do you think?

-- Alan Pergament

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