The NFL put an end to one of the dumbest controversies in politics this season, and an end to grandstanding by a Congress that has accomplished next to none of its own business. The league has decided to have CBS and NBC join the NFL Network in televising the final regular-season game of the New England Patriots:
After weeks of insisting they wouldn’t cave in, NFL officials did just that Wednesday. Now all of America can see the Patriots’ shot at history.
Saturday night’s game between New England and the New York Giants on the NFL Network, which is available in fewer than 40 percent of the nation’s homes with TVs, will be simulcast on CBS and NBC.
The Patriots could become the first NFL team to go 16-0 in the regular season.
Could? The Patriots have proven themselves as operating at another level, while the Giants have struggled to make the playoffs. Not only that, but the game means nothing to the Giants. They won’t risk their chances in the playoffs by getting Eli Manning or the rest of their starters hurt. They may play the first quarter, but after that the Giants will be giving their bench a warm-up for the postseason.
And why did the Senate get involved in this game? It may be stupid for the NFL to take its highest-profile games and reserve them for their own channel, but that would be their stupid decision and none of the government’s business. One can understand John Kerry pandering to his constituents, but Pat Leahy and Arlen Specter threatened the NFL’s anti-trust exemption as an extortive device to get them to break their exclusivity contract with a Boston television channel. If the anti-trust exemption is bad public policy, then Congress should revoke it, and if it isn’t, then Congress should quit using it as leverage to determine the league’s broadcast schedule.
Congress can’t even pass its own budgets on time. What makes any of them think they have the competence to run someone else’s business? If this is the new direction promised for the 110th Congress, then it’s a Wrong-Way Riegels.