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Preseason National TV Schedule Announced



It kicks off with an American Bowl in Japan...immediately follows with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game...and showcases every 2004 playoff team.

Those are among the highlights of an 11-game national television preseason schedule that was announced today by the NFL, along with the complete list of 2005 preseason matchups.

Before Kickoff 2005 Weekend, NFL fans will get a preseason national TV glimpse of the Super Bowl XXXIX teams - the champion New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles - a rematch of a 2004 playoff game, and a lineup of 10 games that features at least one 2004 playoff team in every game.

Showing that preseason counts, seven of last season's 12 playoff clubs had .500 or better records in the preseason.

The preseason begins on Saturday, August 6 when the American Bowl returns to Tokyo, Japan for a city-record 12th time with two 2004 division champions and two of the NFL's most exciting quarterbacks. That day on ESPN and ESPN2, the Atlanta Falcons, with "Mr. Excitement" himself - quarterback MICHAEL VICK - will take on the Indianapolis Colts led by QB PEYTON MANNING, who last year set the NFL season record for touchdown passes with 49.

Two nights later, it is on to Canton, Ohio, birthplace of the NFL, for the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. On Monday night, August 8 on ABC, the Chicago Bears will face the Miami Dolphins, who the day before will see one of their greatest players, quarterback DAN MARINO, inducted into the Hall of Fame. Marino had held the season TD pass record for 20 years (48 in 1984) before the Colts' Manning topped it last year.

The first full preseason weekend showcases two national TV games between 2004 playoff teams. On Thursday night, August 11 (ESPN), it will be "Mr. Comeback" against a QB who has decided to come back for his 15th NFL season. It's the San Diego Chargers, led by quarterback DREW BREES -- voted the 2004 NFL Comeback Player of the Year -- at the Green Bay Packers with QB BRETT FAVRE. The three-time NFL MVP last week told the Pack that he would play this year and perhaps beyond. "I love this game," said Favre, who in 2005 can surpass 50,000 yards and 400 TDs.

On Monday night, August 15, it will be a "Keystone State" matchup featuring championship game teams. On ESPN, the NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles will travel west to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were defeated in last season's AFC Championship Game by the team which eventually topped the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, New England.

In Week 2, those Patriots - who in 2005 will seek a record fourth Super Bowl crown in five years -- will kick off the national TV action on Thursday, August 18 when they host the New Orleans Saints on FOX. The next night, two '04 playoff teams collide on CBS as the Minnesota Vikings visit the New York Jets.

On Monday night on ABC, a playoff team which has just signed its quarterback (MATT HASSELBECK) to a multi-year contract -- the Seattle Seahawks -- will host a club that has just signed a playoff-experienced QB (DREW BLEDSOE) -- the Dallas Cowboys. Bledsoe starred for Washington State as an undergrad.

Week 3 will present four national TV games, the most of the preseason. On Thursday night on ESPN, Vick and the Falcons will be hosted by a team boasting another of the league's exciting young quarterbacks - the Jacksonville Jaguars and QB BYRON LEFTWICH. The next night, the Steelers will visit the Washington Redskins on FOX, matching two of the top three NFL defenses of '04.

On Saturday, a 2004 AFC Wild Card game rematch takes place when Indianapolis visits the Denver Broncos on CBS.

The preseason national TV schedule concludes on Monday night (ABC) in Detroit (site of this season's Super Bowl) when two of the league's impressive young running backs square off -- STEVEN JACKSON of the St. Louis Rams and KEVIN JONES of the Lions.


(All times Eastern)

Saturday, August 6

American Bowl, Tokyo, Japan:

Atlanta vs. Indianapolis

ESPN2 (5:00 AM)

ESPN (6:00 PM, Re-air)

Monday, August 8

Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio:

Chicago vs. Miami

ABC (8:00 PM)

Preseason Week 1 (August 11-15)

Thursday, August 11

San Diego at Green Bay

ESPN (8:00 PM)

Monday, August 15

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh

ESPN (8:00PM)

Preseason Week 2 (August 18-22)

Thursday, August 18

New Orleans at New England

FOX (8:00 PM)

Friday, August 19

Minnesota at New York Jets

CBS (8:00 PM)

Monday, August 22

Dallas at Seattle

ABC (8:00 PM)

Preseason Week 3 (August 25-29)

Thursday, August 25

Atlanta at Jacksonville

ESPN (8:00 PM)

Friday, August 26

Pittsburgh at Washington

FOX (8:00 PM)

Saturday, August 27

Indianapolis at Denver

CBS (8:00 PM)

Monday, August 29

St. Louis at Detroit

ABC (8:00 PM)

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