The often incoherent, grammatically challenged ramblings of a man who has watched too much sports, listened to too much music and devoured too many club sandwiches.
There was a lot of braying around Philadelphia over the past couple of days because the only sold-out playoff game this weekend was the Eagles’ game tomorrow night at the Linc against the Saints.
Seemed like a good time to puff out your chest and howl about how Philadelphia fans have proven again how they are the best in the land … and when is everybody going to recognize that fact?
Well, whatever floats your boat. However, all of that braying is exactly what the NFL and all major sports leagues depend upon when they take you by the ankles and shake loose every last penny.
They want you to feel as if it is your civic responsibility to attend the games – no matter the weather, no matter the cost.
And, in the case of the NFL, if you don’t fill that stadium to a certain percent of capacity – well, dagnabit, we won’t let you see the game on television, either. We will threaten you with a local blackout.
Just think about that. Just think about the arrogance of the National Football League. Think about the arrogance of a league that would dare to even consider the blackout of a playoff game in any market – let alone Green Bay.
The Packers have a long and storied history of literally packing their building. In fact, the NFL trades on the story of loyal fans such as those in Green Bay who regularly brave the cold to watch their beloved Packers.
However, with temperatures expected to drop well below zero this weekend, some Packers fans have decided it is better to watch Sunday’s game against the 49ers at home.
Or maybe the prices are out of reach.
Whatever the reason, the NFL has again put a gun to the head of the public. It happens time and again when a team wants a new stadium, and the NFL marches them toward public funding … or maybe the team will threaten to move.
You know, pack up and go like the Colts left for Indianapolis, or the original Browns left for Baltimore … or whatever team decides it wants a better deal.
There is a long tradition of this, but making matters worse now are things like private seat licensing and whatever else that can be created to gather even more money.
With the amount of money cities have surrendered to keep teams, and the amount of money fans across the nation spend to watch NFL games, there is simply no way ANY game should be blacked out … let alone a playoff game.
Take a look at your cable bill. You think it would be near as high if the networks did not have to pay huge amounts televise sporting events? Granted, much of the NFL is on the networks, but there is still plenty you would miss without a cable service.
The DirecTV billions literally fell into the league’s lap, and every day it seems there is another platform available for you to pay for – whether it’s Internet, mobile or Bluetooth -- and in this war, only the fans are left toothless.
This is not just an NFL issue; the NHL shakes money out of its fans with its outdoor series, and the accompanying games fans are forced to buy, or get no ticket to the real game.
There is also the matter of the secondary ticket market, a real sewer of business associations in which the fans are again fleeced of their money as sports leagues have decided that -- you know -- scalping is good, but only if THEY get to profit.
Check out the so-called face value price of a ticket on a secondary market, and then consider that the seller is likely a season ticket holder who paid only a fraction of that, but now he can re-sell it and make a profit. And guess who else makes a pretty penny? You got it, the league and team.
Want a reason to stay away from a playoff game? How about the amount that the price of parking is raised is some markets! Why? Did the parking lot have a great season and make the playoffs?
Doubt it. More like a simple matter of grabbing all the loot while they can.
To some extent, all leagues are involved in this gambit, and they make a pretty good case for American business acumen.
However, in the case of the NFL blacking out a playoff game -- or even threatening to do so in a place like Green Bay -- is a total and compete disgrace.
Not a disgrace to the fans, but a disgrace to a league that uses its fan base as a commodity that was bought, paid for, and expected to act appropriately.
So, go on and puff out your chest and brag all you want about Philly fans being the best in the land, but realize there is another, far uglier side to the story.
The Big Bad NFL demands the building are full.
It remains the biggest show in the land -- ironically without teams in New York and Los Angeles -- and the league wants the rules to say you have to pack the place, or they won’t allow it on TV.
It’s about time somebody puts the NFL in its place, and maybe if the story weren’t about the “lesser” fans in some cities, and more on the outrageous arrogance of the league, the situation would change.