5 NFL Grinches For The 2012 Holiday Season
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:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blackouts this season: Five
That's five of six home games blacked out already this season and a whopping 18 home games that haven't been televised in the Tampa area during the past three seasons.
The only game the team sold out this year was a home loss to the New Orleans Saints, their division rivals. By accepting the new blackout threshold and tweaking ticket prices, Buccaneers management made the argument they were doing all they could to keep the team on the air. They weren't buying up tickets for a third of the price and giving them to charity -- a loophole exploited by several other NFL squads -- but that's their prerogative.
Still, Tampa Bay's acceptance of the blackout deal never quite smelled right. That 85% attendance threshold is nice and all, but attendance at eight of the team's 13 blacked-out games in the past two seasons fell below that mark. The team's slide from a 10-6 playoff contender in 2010 to a 4-12 team adrift last year to a 6-6 snoozefest under new head coach Greg Schiano this season hasn't exactly jolted the fan base, which is now used to not seeing its team on television for much of the year. Anger's given way to resignation, and that's a dangerous thing for any team still looking for an identity.
San Diego Chargers
Blackouts this season: Three
Team ownership hates its stadium and its deal with the city and the team's fans and San Diego officials hate ownership right back.