NEW YORK » The New York Giants will visit the Washington Redskins, and the New York Jets will host the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 11, marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With the NFL and its locked-out players mired in negotiations over a new labor agreement, the league announced its 2011-12 schedule yesterday — assuming the season starts on time.
The regular season kicks off Thursday night, Sept. 8, when the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers host the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field.
The first Sunday features several high-profile games, including Indianapolis at Houston and Atlanta at Chicago. But much of the national focus will be on Washington and New York, the two cities most affected by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"That stadium is going to be full of emotion, not only the people from the area but in the entire country," said Jets coach Rex Ryan, who will be matching wits with his brother, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. "The fact that it’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that’s where the focus should be, not me playing against my brother."
The Redskins and Giants kick off at 10:15 a.m. Hawaii time, with the Jets and Cowboys at 2:20 p.m.
"For nearly 10 years, we have felt an obligation to use our platform to make sure none of us ever forget the tragedy and heartbreak and courage and heroism of Sept. 11," Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said. "That responsibility becomes even greater."
Pittsburgh was the third NFL city most closely affected by the terrorist attacks after Flight 93 crashed 80 miles away near Shanksville, Pa. The Steelers will visit the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11.
The final Sunday of the regular season falls on New Year’s Day, when all 16 scheduled games are between division rivals.
The regular season covers 17 weeks, with the opening round of the playoffs scheduled for Jan. 7-8 and the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis.
The NFL has expressed a desire to stretch the season to 18 games, one of the sticking points in the contentious fight between owners and players over a new labor agreement.
The two sides resumed court-ordered mediation yesterday in Minneapolis, with a federal judge’s decision expected soon on a request to immediately halt the lockout.