Think the debt-ceiling fracas and ensuing credit-rating downgrade were bad? Try messing with America’s pastime. It appears, however, that the White House, NBC and the National Football League will work something out.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a jobs speech to a joint session of Congress — and to the nation via live television on the major networks and cable news channels — on Thursday, Sept. 8, the same night the NFL kicks off the 2011 season on NBC with a game between defending Super Bowl champs the Green Bay Packers and their Lombardi Trophy-winning predecessors, the New Orleans Saints.

Per a long-standing custom between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, Obama made a perfunctory request to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, asking that both chambers convene on Wednesday, Sept. 7 for the speech. But Boehner, in an apparent first, rebuffed the president’s request, evidently so the speech wouldn’t upstage a Republican presidential candidate debate scheduled for Wednesday. The White House agreed to move the speech to the following evening, to which Football Nation replied, “What the?”

Obama’s address is scheduled for 7 p.m. Central Standard Time; kick off at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., is set for 30 minutes later. Has a nationally televised presidential address to a joint session of Congress ever run less than a half hour? We can’t recall one. But a White House official tells Huffington Post today, “We won’t conflict with football.” And cites an NBC spokesman as saying “We’re aware of the situtation and are communicating with the NFL.”

It’s unclear what will happen, but clearly either Obama must step up to the podium earlier or the Packers-Saints have to kick off later, or both. Or else.

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