Goodell Flagged For Late Hit On Fans
By Mark Yost
The NFL released its 2013 schedule last week and I think it’s fair to say that it’s anything but fan-friendly.
If there’s any friendliness, it’s clearly toward the NFL’s prime-time TV game television revenue model. As for the fans, don’t expect on getting to bed anytime soon this season. Unless, of course, you live on the West Coast. But even then, you’re in for some late nights.
I think the 2013 schedule supports a long-held thesis of mine that I’ll come back to from time to time. Namely, that the best place to watch most sporting events these days is your living room. The food’s better, the beer’s colder, and the company is much better. And if you deposit what you would have paid for parking into your 401(k) every game, you’ll be able to retire by the time you’re 50.
The very first game of the regular season is Ravens at Broncos, with an 8:30 start (all times are Eastern). That means with all the TV timeouts, extended halftime show and the like, we’re looking at probably midnight before this thing is close to being over. On a school night. So if you’re a fourth-grader from Silver Spring who’s looking forward to wearing your new Joe Flacco jersey for the first time, you’d better tell Mrs. Boyd on Wednesday, Sept. 4 that you’ll be a little groggy during first-period Social Studies.
Moving right along, we get to the double-header Monday Night Football opener on Sept. 9. First it’s Eagles at Redskins at 7:30, followed by Texans at Chargers at 10:30. No, that’s not a typo by your faithful correspondent. Roger Goodell, who’s repeatedly told us “It’s all about the fans,” has decided to thank you for your PSL support by starting a game at 10:30 p.m. Eastern – during the work week. I’d estimate how many Texan fans and bookies are already telling their boss they’ll be in “a little late” on Sept. 10, but I can’t count that high. What I can tell you is that it’ll probably be 2 a.m. outside the NFL’s Park Avenue offices before this one is over. But, of course, Mr. Goodell and his minions will be fast asleep by then, dreaming of the billions they’re bilking from the average schmo through PSLs (“A good investment”), club-level fees, $15 sandwiches and $12 beers.
Later that week, the Thursday night game between the Jets and the Patriots starts at 8:30. AFC East fans will get to bed by midnight, but I wonder how many remember the beginnings of the NFL Network? You remember, when Goodell’s mentor, Paul Tagliabue, went before Congress, which was required to hold anti-trust hearings because of the anti-trust exemption issued by the football-loving Kennedys. Mr. Tagliabue and his stable of NFL lawyers assured Congress that the NFL Network was merely being created to produce talk shows and to show the millions of hours of archived footage held by NFL Films. There would never be, Mr. Tagliabue said, a game broadcast on the NFL Network. Of course, Thursday night games on the NFL Network have become as much a part of the league as kickoff tees and million-dollar suites. But it didn’t affect the bowl selection of Sen. Orrin Hatch’s beloved Utes, so no reason to investigate.
And so it goes. Even I was surprised at the number of late-night games that are scheduled in the eastern and central time zones. Steelers at Bengals, Chiefs at Eagles, 49ers at Rams. That last game is a perfect example of how un-fan friendly the NFL actually is. Why wouldn’t they schedule the game in San Francisco for a late-night start? While the fans in Brooklyn will have to stay up late, at least the fans actually going to the game could have gotten home at a decent hour (Santa Clara traffic notwithstanding).
Of course, later in the season weather becomes a factor. I understand that weather is part of the game, and some yahoos mistakenly think that a fifth of Jim Beam will warm them up. But do most people really want to sit outside in Green Bay on Dec. 8 for a game that starts at 7:30 local time and could feature wind chills well below zero?
I will most certainly be watching Cowboys at the Bears on Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. CST. But it’ll be from the comfort of my living room.