5 NFL Grinches For The 2012 Holiday Season
The National Football League was supposed to be entering a game-changing season for its television blackout policy, which dates back to an act of Congress in 1961. The act prevents home games from showing on TV stations that broadcast within a 75-mile radius of the stadium if tickets aren't sold out 72 hours before kickoff. This summer, after the Federal Communications Commission agreed to review the policy, the NFL took its first step away from those restrictions. Under new rules, teams would be allowed to broadcast games within their local coverage area even if only 85% of tickets are sold.
Unfortunately, it was up to the teams' owners to decide if they want to adopt that 85% threshold. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers adopted the lower "sellout" mark in July and lowered ticket prices after blacking out 13 of their past 15 home games. The Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings have since followed suit, but the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers didn't feel quite as strongly. Those three teams stuck to the 100% mark despite blacking out games in each of the past two seasons and trying to get taxpayers to pony up for stadium construction and improvements.
But shaming local ownership was the entire point of that new rule. It was designed to divert attention away from the NFL just after it inked television deals with ESPN
As we enter the holiday season and the waning weeks of the NFL season, we see that the NFL's new blackout regulations didn't do much at all. Blackouts are still happening and teams are still trying to shake down their markets for every penny they can get. With that in mind, we took a look around the league this year and came up with a "naughty" list of five teams who kept fans from seeing games this season. We'd put coal in their stockings, but they'd probably just threaten to move them to another chimney if they don't get toys instead: