The NFL announced its Thursday night opener for next fall, and once again it will be a home game for the defending Super Bowl Champions. On September 8th, the Patriots will host the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium in a prime-time showdown on ABC. Last September, the Pats hosted the Indianapolis Colts, winning 24-21, in what many consider the game of the 2004 regular season. Last year's kickoff featured performances by Elton John, Destiny's Child, The Boston Pops Orchestra, and Toby Keith. It is likely the Kraft family and the NFL will work together to surround the game with similar hoopla this September. **Bill Griffith** of The Boston Globe and **Kevin Mannix** of The Boston Herald have more on yesterday's announcement.
Ron Borges of the Globe reports from the NFL owners meetings in Hawaii. Borges relates the Patriots have extended a rules proposal that would limit the power of the league's Competition Committee. Such a proposal is likely a response to the committee's "point of emphasis" introduced last year regarding illegal contact by defensive backs, a committee creation largely believed to be related to Patriots d-backs' physicality with Colts receivers in the 2003 AFC Championship game. Borges reports the proposal is not likely to be accepted.
Christopher Cox of the Herald examines the Patriots recent business model, one Cox says is more about the bottom-line that any sort of emotion or loyalty. Cox points to the recent releases or perceived low-balling of veterans like Joe Andruzzi, Roman Phifer, and Troy Brown as evidence of Bill Belichick's emotion-less decision-making.
Jarret Bell of USA Today has more from the owners meetings, reporting league commissioner Paul Tagliabue's relatively dire depiction of talks with the players union regarding the collective bargaining agreement. "The CBA deal doesn't expire until 2008, but with new economic forces in play, it appears that negotiations could be the most contentious in nearly two decades," writes Bell. "The league's last work stoppage was 1987, when locked-out union players were supplanted by 'replacement' players."
Finally, The Providence Journal reports the Patriots will receive three compensatory draft picks in April's NFL draft. The picks will be used between the third and seventh round and, as the Journal writes, "the number of picks a team receives and the rounds they come in are based on a formula that takes into account salary, playing time and postseason honors by players they lost. The maximum any one team can get is four picks."