Some NFL broadcast rules are worth breaking



I’m a law-and-order guy. I don’t litter, I pay my taxes, I no longer steal hotel towels, and I’ve never rebroadcasted or retransmitted any account of a game without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball.

And though I’ve never advocate public disobedience, there are rules made to be broken — or blissfully ignored.

It happened again last Sunday. After investing nearly 3 hours and 25 minutes watching the Packers and Bengals on Fox, the game, a wild one deep in overtime with one decisive play left, was pulled, “by rule,” from viewers in this region for the 4:25 kickoff of Giants-Cowboys.

Thus, the final scene from the all-day movie was pulled from view, the final chapter of the mystery ripped from the book. Yes, torture — cruel and unusual punishment — as per the NFL’s TV rules.

Now, if the first moving images we saw from Arlington, Texas, had been the actual kickoff, we could better understand. But we know by now, as per Giants and Jets late afternoon telecasts, that’s seldom the case. Thus, the agonizing switch out of Packers-Bengals came at 4:23, in time to see local ads and promos, then a scene-setter from Joe Buck who, naturally, introduced his partner as “the Hall of Famer, Troy Aikman.”

“It was,” writes reader Malcolm MacKinnon, “like watching the movie ‘Psycho’ when Vera Miles goes down to the basement, and suddenly … “Andy Griffith Show’ reruns.”

If I were at the controls at Fox, I’d have multi-tasked: broken the rules while playing stupid.

I’d have shown the game-ending — er, walk-off — Packers field goal, then cut to Dallas, whistling and looking around as if I didn’t know any better other than to best serve Fox’s audience, shame on me.

If there were make-goods to be made with local advertisers, figure it out Monday. Ya think local Fox affiliates would go on record as objecting to sticking for a few more seconds with an OT game rather than promo that Monday’s local weather forecasts to be heard during that night’s newscasts? Not a chance.

Dak Precott and Mason Crosby
Getty Images (2)

If the NFL objected, let the world know that the league insists that its networks choose local ads and needless scene-setters over watching the compelling end of a game in which its fans already had invested 3 hours and 23 minutes.

I hope that the NFL wouldn’t say a word, that it would be quietly pleased that its inflexible rule was ignored.

You think Roger Goodell would’ve left the room to holler into a phone, “They’re sticking with an OT game rather than cut to Joe Buck’s opening remarks! I’ll have their necks!”?

And what about all those NFL-inspired gamblers? Didn’t they buy the right to watch their action until the end? Green Bay, after all, was a 3-point favorite.

Or, Goodell to Fox: “Just for that, we’re no longer cashing your checks!” Yeah, sure.

You want an inflexible rule that makes sense? How’s this: You’re not to be in commercials when a touchdown is scored. Strictly forbidden.

That happened when the Giants scored in the second quarter to tie the game. What Buck described as a breakdown in communications after Giants QB Daniel Jones was left staggering from a helmet-to-helmet hit forced us to watch a commercial for Sonic rather than If I were at the controls at Fox, I’d have multi-tasked: broken the rules while playing stupid.’s TD dive from the 1-yard line on fourth down.

Devontae Booker dives in for a touchdown.
Getty Images

Of course, after seeing what befell Jones, who was the first player Fox chose to focus on — he was seen standing on the sidelines awaiting the start of the game — we’d have never left the field to cram in unanticipated commercials; we’d have stuck with Jones. But what do we know?

So in under one hour, Fox, in concert with the NFL, deprived us the sight of the finish to an OT game, then the sight of a game-tying Giants TD.

As Goodell, seen in an NFL Network hagiography, once explained to a group of NFL fans: “It’s all about our fans.” That was just before his bogus hustle of PSLs as “good investments.”

That recorded gathering was in Wisconsin, among Packers fans. Goodell, in exchange for maximum TV money, has since scheduled several Packers home games at night in dangerous arctic weather, moving one fan to write that if Goodell had left his dog out in such conditions, “he’d be arrested.”

But, “It’s all about our fans.”

Cash pays for analytic loyalty with Rays defeat

With credit to the late Soupy Sales: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Sam and Janet. Sam and Janet who? Some enchanted evening!

In that song, from “South Pacific,” we’re asked: “Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.”

The musical’s lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein, died in 1960, long before he could apply those lines to baseball as it’s being knocked senseless by the scourge of analytics, a junk science that blends vats of hocus with pocus.

Last year, Rays manager Kevin Cash gift-wrapped the World Series to the Dodgers when in the sixth and final game, he pulled starter Blake Snell in the sixth inning after he’d allowed his second hit of the game. At the time, Snell was totally in control and the Rays led, 1-0.

Kevin Cash
Rays manager Kevin Cash hands the ball to Pete Fairbanks during Game 4 of the ALDS

But Cash was one of those sense-defying bullpen roulette managers. Soon, against reliever Nick Anderson, the Dodgers took the lead and won the Series. Cash learned the hard way, but he’d never do that again.

But he didn’t learn and he did it again — Monday, in the fourth and final game of ALDS vs. the Red Sox.

In a game with a DH, starter Collin McHugh threw 18 pitches, allowing one hit in two innings. He was then removed by Cash, perhaps because he wanted McHugh well rested for spring training.

In came Shane McClanahan, who quickly allowed five hits, a walk and five runs.

So the epidemic of lunacy does not begin nor end with Aaron Boone. Hardly. It’s a sustaining, MLB-wide, self-inflicted disease. And for no good reason, they’re acts of treason as they provide aid and comfort to the forces intent on destroying baseball.

If networks don’t televise a sport, it doesn’t exist

It’s amazing to watch “all-sports” ESPN, after virtually ignoring the NHL for years, to so quickly give it the NBA treatment, as per a commitment to its cash rather than to sports fans.

On the other hand, NBC’s weekend “Sports Reports” inserts — long a dishonest misnomer as they only serve NBC and its sports partners — presumably will no longer include NHL news, highlights and promos now that NBC no longer has NHL rights.

Then there’s TNT, the other new NHL partner, which couldn’t have possibly begun its NHL season without throwing the focus on Charles Barkley, a reach much too far and an insulting, transparent cross-promotion to any hockey fan who hoped for better.

That was the big story from TNT’s first night of televising the NHL: It was going to lead with Charles Barkley.

Rams-Giants, Sunday on Fox. We get two transplanted ESPN jabberers, Adam Amin with Mark Schlereth. Give us strength.


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