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CBS eyes Thursday night lights

Eli Manning throws before a game against the

Eli Manning throws before a game against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 22, 2013. Credit: AP

No one outside Washington, D.C., is lobbied quite as heavily as Howard Katz, the NFL’s scheduling poobah, who frequently fields requests from sports TV executives who would very much like his best matchups on their networks.

Earlier this month I ran into Fox Sports boss Eric Shanks on his way to meeting with Mr. Katz. Thursday CBS Sports’ Sean McManus told me he has met with the big guy, too.

“We all talk to Howard,’’ McManus said. “In fact we talk to him so much it probably drives him crazy.’’

All NFL media eyes are on how Katz treats McManus when the schedule comes out in the coming weeks, because the assumption is the league will do all it can to provide quality games early in the new CBS Thursday night slate.

On the other hand, every team is required to play a Thursday night game, limiting flexibility.

“In over 15 years I’ve never been disappointed with the schedule they’ve given us on Sunday afternoon and have no reason to believe we’re going to be disappointed on Thursday night,’’ McManus said.

“The league is trying to establish a franchise on Thursday nights so they’re going to do their best to give us a really outstanding schedule.’’

New York Sports