Dear Jeff Lurie,
Sorry for the direct communique, but I need to leapfrog over your handlers because we’ve got a 911 situation here. Children’s eyeballs are at stake.
As you know, your Eagles Charitable Foundation worries about kids’ health. That’s why, since 1996, its Eagles Eye Mobile has given free vision screenings, eye exams, and glasses to children who need them. More than 56,000 kids are seeing the blackboard better because of the foundation.
Props to you, sir!
But you know what would help even more kids?
A $1,383,500 windfall to your charity. That’s how much could be raised in one evening if a) the Birds make it to the Super Bowl, and b) you televise the game on Lincoln Financial Field’s 27-by-96-foot Panasonic LED video screens and allow 69,175 Birds fans to watch it for $20 apiece to the Eagles Charitable Foundation.
That’s more than the organization has ever raised in a single year, let alone a single day.
Your foundation boasts that every $30 in donations provides a new pair of prescription eyeglasses for a child who needs them. So a one-day, Super Bowl bonanza would benefit 46,116 vision-impaired kids.
That’s 92,232 little eyeballs!
I’ve been using this column since November to trumpet the idea of Eagles fans cheering together at the Linc if the Birds go the distance. I even started a petition to get the NFL to allow Super Bowl “watch parties” in the hometown stadiums of competing teams.
And here I am, on the eve of the Birds (fingers crossed) making it to the Big Game, begging again.
As you know, the league owns the broadcast rights to all NFL games and has a long-standing policy of forbidding “the mass, out-of-home viewing of preseason, regular-season, and postseason games,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told me.
Mass viewing – whether at Lincoln Financial Field or a movie theater – would allegedly screw up the Nielsen-ratings system used to determine game viewership.Those numbers determine how much the networks, which buy broadcast rights, can charge advertisers for commercials.
Which determines how much the networks are willing to pay for the broadcast rights. Which determines how much team owners will bank.
Except it would be easy to determine how many viewers watched the Super Bowl at the Linc.
“Just count the damn tickets,” says an NFL insider, familiar with the Linc, who would love to see the Super Bowl televised in the Eagles’ home stadium. The stadium wouldn’t even go into hock on the game, he says, since the venue more than breaks even on concessions and parking alone.
Besides, it’s not as if other gigantic venues aren’t holding “mass” Super Bowl watch parties of their own.
Take the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, for example. Three years ago, 931 fans attended its first outdoor “Big Game Bash.” In 2016, the number ballooned to 1,600; in 2017, to 3,100. This year, a spokeswoman says, attendance is expected to top 4,000, which sure seems to qualify as the “mass viewing” the NFL supposedly opposes.
Why can’t the NFL use the same methods to crunch viewing numbers at the Linc that it uses to crunch the numbers at “mass viewing” places like the Vegas center?
In prior columns, I’ve noted that other sports franchises embrace hometown watch parties when their teams have made it into the playoffs. Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association — all allowed their final games to be televised from within competing teams’ hometown venues. So the NFL should do the same.
My argument landed on deaf ears.
I also made the case that the Eagles have an obligation to give those who’ve bled green their whole lives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a hometown Super Bowl together.
And I argued that the $512 million Linc was built with $256 million from Pennsylvania taxpayers, yet most of them have never seen the inside of Philly’s shrine to the Birds because the tickets are so expensive.
Isn’t it time, I asked, that the masses got to see what they’ve been missing?
Um, said the NFL, no.
Now that we’re on the cusp of (please, God, PLEASE) the Eagles going to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004, it’s time for a final, big-gun argument:
Mr. Lurie, if you don’t figure out a way to let Eagles fans — the ones who’ve helped grow your team to its $2.6 billion worth — watch the game inside the Linc on Super Bowl Sunday, you won’t just be letting down supporters who’d never forget the experience.
You’d be hurting 92,232 little eyeballs that would benefit from the money that fans would raise for them.
So please, sir. Let us in.
Do it for the kids.