The Pope and Taylor Swift do seem an unlikely duo, but each played a similar role in the NFL's complex schedule-making process: they were quite a pain.
Every year, the NFL's regular-season schedule proves a very arduous task. As Peter King explains for MMQB, the 2015 slate took four men and 136 computers before a workable schedule could be drafted. Managing home-and-away games, fitting in division battles, and choosing great match-ups for primetime performances are all critical to the process.
But that's not all. The men and computers also had to stay in compliance with about 50 "must-have" requirements. Among them: Avoiding potential conflicts with three different Taylor Swift concerts, and making sure the Eagles were out of town on the weekend of Pope Francis's visit.
King reports that the NFL's agreement to steer clear of the Pope came after the the archbishop of Philadelphia contacted Roger Goodell personally to put in the request. Citing potential traffic headaches and the desire to give local residents -- including Eagles fans -- a chance to see the Pope in person, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput asked if the team could play on the road that week.
Goodell complied, after some help from NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz.
"The pope did influence the NFL schedule," Katz told King. "My name may be Katz, but I wasn't taking any chances."
There were plenty of other headaches, too, such as those in Oakland and Kansas City, where the Raiders and Chiefs share stadiums or facilities with Major League Baseball's Athletics and Royals. Not only do both teams have a one-month overlap of regular-season schedules with NFL teams, but both are strong candidates for postseason play, which could further throw a wrench into scheduling.
In total, it took 37,793 different generated schedules before the right one was landed upon. The NFL sounds pretty happy about the end product. We haven't heard from Taylor Swift.