Reality: The Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, and Indianapolis Colts were each given a second extension to sell the remaining tickets that are available for their home playoff games, to avoid a local TV blackout.
Perception: The NFL is the most popular thing in America. Fox’s TV ratings are the highest in 20 years and CBS’s are the highest in 19 years. Sunday Night Football on NBC is consistently the most watched “show” on TV each week. Football is here to stay, but has the transition been made from going to the stadium for that live experience to experiencing HD TV in the comfy settings of your living room for free?
Over 40 years ago, the NFL put the blackout rule into effect to prevent people from staying at home to watch games, instead of buying tickets and going to the stadium. The blackout only applies to the “local TV market” of the home team. The last NFL playoff game that was blacked out was the Ravens at Dolphins game in January 2002.
Recently, the FCC proposed ending blackouts entirely. All the major sports leagues are fighting it, but ultimately Congress will decide. And with what’s been said on Capitol Hill, it appears lawmakers agree with the public. If taxpayers are paying for the publically financed stadiums out of their own money, and not the owners, then the taxpayers should also be able to watch the games on local TV with a threat of a blackout.
CNN’s Rachel Nichols says “to me, the blackout rule is like banning grocery stores from selling food each night until all nearby restaurants are full.”
Note: There can be some good that comes out of this kind of thing, such as this:
Meijer has purchased 1,200 tickets for Saturday’s Chiefs-Colts game to donate to local military families. Game now a sell out, no black out.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 3, 2014
Still, the point remains…
If the NFL and the owners don’t like having stadiums that aren’t sold out, then do what other businesses need to do to get more business… lower prices! The game time temperature in Green Bay is expected to be -30 degrees. Yes, that’s a minus in front of the 30. Why should a couple fork out a minimum of $300 for two tickets, $40 for parking, and $50 on food/drink to sit in that mess, when they can sit in their PJs in their la-z-boy and watch the game on High-Def TV?
Now, even saying all of that in defense of the fans… I still believe there is no excuse to not sell out a home playoff game. The Eagles sold out, and it’ll be snowing there. Yes, it’ll be cold in Green Bay, but their field is nicknamed “The Frozen Tundra,” so they should be used to it! Indianapolis? They have no excuse! They play in a heated dome! You can bet that Baltimore would have sold out a home playoff game in no time flat. Guess Irsay shouldn’t have moved his team if he wanted passionate fans.
Reality: Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell interview with the Washington Redskins for their head coaching position Thursday, and will interview with the Detroit Lions for their opening Friday.
Perception: As our own Tom Moore wrote Thursday, Caldwell getting a head coaching job could be a blessing for the Ravens.
Baltimore was pretty excited when Caldwell took over for Cam Cameron last season, but the honeymoon ended quickly in 2013. The Ravens offense never got going, and all the same critiques that we heard about Cameron were being said about Caldwell. His play calling was predictable and vanilla.
Harbaugh said that no coaching changes were happening right now, but he left open the possibility that things could change this offseason. Harbaugh is loyal. He doesn’t want to let Caldwell go, especially after he fired Cameron last season. If he changes offensive coordinators again, it may come back to him. However, if Caldwell leaves because he got a head coaching gig with another team, then Harbaugh gets to bring in another offensive coordinator without having to take the fall for another failed offensive regime.
Reality: The Ravens have 14 players that are Unrestricted Free Agents.
Perception: Our own Brian Macfarland previewed the Ravens free agents earlier this week. Here is what I see happening:
Brandon Stokley has announced his retirement. Dallas Clark will not be back. Michael Oher and Ed Dickson will not be back. Bernard Scott will probably not be re-signed. Terrence Cody and Jeromy Miles will come down to who else is available for the Ravens to sign. If the money is right, they could re-sign both of them, or they will play the market for options.
As much as I’d love to see Arthur Jones brought back, I think he’ll go the way of Paul Kruger, Jarrett Johnson, and others. He’ll get big money that the Ravens won’t be able to match. Either Corey Graham or James Ihedigbo will not be re-signed.
Jacoby Jones is interesting. Jones will have to take a discount to stay in Baltimore and I’m guessing some team will throw some money his way. The deciding factor for Jones will be who gives him an opportunity as a receiver. Most teams see his true value on special teams, but Jones wants to play offense. The team that agrees to give him the ball will be the one to sign him.
That leaves Dennis Pitta and Eugene Monroe. I expect the Ravens to make them their two biggest priorities this offseason. My heart would like to also see them try to bring back Daryl Smith, and I think they will.