NFL blackout blunderOctober 10, 2006
I’ve never been able to explain why, but for some reason or another, I’ve always hated the San Francisco 49ers.
Perhaps it’s the squad’s connection to Candlestick Park — a venue that once played home to the Dodgers’ wretched, Halloween-flavored rival. Maybe it’s their sheer inability to string together a winning season lately, or possibly even just the fact that they reside in the barren wasteland that is Northern California.
Whatever the case, this past Sunday I finally found some solid justification for my dislike of the NFC’s bottom-dwelling squad.
For months I had been looking forward to the over-hyped Cowboys-Eagles game in which Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens would return to Philadelphia — his first time since parting ways with Andy Reid’s squad last season. We all knew this match-up would be one for the ages, and for good reason.
Donnovan McNabb remains in the midst of an MVP-like season, surpassing everyone’s expectations after missing the latter part of last season due to injury. The lively Eagles’ faithful were eager to receive Owens with a good ol’ Philly welcome — not to mention the fact that the Eagles and Cowboys entered the contest ranked first and second, respectively, in the NFC East.
Yep, it was supposed to be a good Sunday. And with my Dodgers knocked out of the MLB playoffs just a night earlier, I really needed the comfort that could only be provided by a nice, old-fashioned NFL slobber-knocker.
But as I flipped the channel over to FOX, all I could see was some old episode of “Star Trek.” “WTF, mate?” And then I saw the vile words gracing the bottom of the screen: “Due to NFL regulations, the Cowboys-Eagles game has been blacked-out in this market.”
Yes, it appeared that my weekend-long streak of failure would continue through Sunday. First the Dodgers. Then Full Moon on the Quad. And now this.
Per the NFL blackout rule that went into effect in 1973, a channel without broadcast rights to the market’s home team cannot air another NFL game at the same time the home team’s game is broadcast on another network. In other words, because the less-than-epic 49ers-Raiders game was shown on CBS at the same time, the NFL prohibited FOX from broadcasting their “Game of the Year.”
The NFL argues this rule simply encourages fans to cheer on teams from their market. Funny, the way I see it is that the NFL is forcing fans to cheer on their market.
I’m blessed to be from Los Angeles, where the NFL provides us with each week’s best games. Apparently, Angelinos get access to each game because we don’t have a professional team; though, contrary to popular belief, we do in fact have a team called the USC Trojans — who just happen to be more of a pro team than both the Niners and the Raiders.
It’s ridiculous to think that if I had grown up as an Indianapolis Colts fan and found myself living in the Bay Area, I would be unable to watch my squad, despite their appearance on national television.
And chances are, I’m not the only relocated football fan impacted by these absurd regulations. All throughout the country are fans of the Packers, Cowboys and Steelers who would need to purchase a special cable or satellite TV package to watch games to which they were originally entitled.
There’s a reason football is the nation’s most-watched sport. The NFL is at the forefront of sports management. The league just seems to get what Americans want and then deliver with quality entertainment. But this whole blackout rule is just ridiculous.
I’m certain there were tons of people eager to watch the “Battle of the Bay” on Sunday. But then there were also people like me — fans who wanted to see a real football game. Loyal Niner and Raider fans alike would have watched their game no matter what other matches were available at the same time, so there’s no sense making the rest of us suffer.
Andrew Lomeli is depressed. What else would you expect after the Dodgers looked like a Little League team against the Mets last week. Mock him at email@example.com.