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Harlan: Packers A National Draw


Announced by the National Football League Thursday, the Packers' 2003 schedule will be as visible as it will be challenging.

That's great news for the legions of Packers fans that will be able to find half of the team's regular-season games on national television, including the NFL maximum four in prime-time.

"To have eight games featured on national TV is a great honor," said Packers President/CEO Bob Harlan. "I think it shows that the networks have tremendous interest in us.

"That's something we ought to cherish because there were a lot of times in the 1970s and 80s when every game we played was at noon, and people always asked why we weren't on national television."

National TV can pose some difficulties however.

For example, Milwaukee-area season ticket holders ended up with a Monday night game in their Gold package, Nov. 10, vs. Philadelphia.

"We tried to look at other options, but to be honest, it's not the first time they've had a prime-time game, and we get very few complaints about it," Harlan said.

"If we would have moved it up, Gold ticket holders would have seen all their games by mid-October. If we moved it back, we faced the possibility of safety problems with winter weather.

"Philadelphia is a great opponent, and that will be the first Monday night game in the redeveloped stadium. Really, it's a very special game, and I hope they'll see it that way."

The Packers' season will start at home against the Minnesota Vikings, Sept. 7, in a game that will mark the rededication of Lambeau Field.

Originally, the Packers had requested a 3:15 p.m. kickoff, but settled for a noon start when scheduling conflicts put the season opener in jeopardy of being on the road.

"We were having trouble with the starting time and then the NFL told us the wanted us to be on the road in Week 1," Harlan said. "That's when we finally said: 'Listen, we don't care when we play, but we have to be at home because we have all of these events planned leading up to the game for the rededication of Lambeau.' Now we get to stay at home and give Lambeau Field the festivities it deserves."

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