For sports fans, in general, the most significant thing that happened yesterday wasn't on the field, court or ice. It happened in an announcement that the Patriots-Giants game on Saturday will be available on network television.
Previously scheduled to be shown exclusively on NFL Network, what has become an historic sports event as New England goes for a perfect regular season will be simulcast on two familiar networks, CBS and NBC.
As you probably know, under normal circumstances, the game would have been broadcast only to those who have access to NFL Network, either through cable or satellite, and to select stations in the two "home" markets in New England and New York. A majority of households do not receive NFL Network because some major cable carriers either don't carry it at all or have it positioned at a tier that requires additional payment by the subscribers.
Access to NFL Network through large cable outlets has become a bigger issue and received more discussion since last year when the NFL Network started broadcasting a limited number of games itself, eight this season. And this year, two of those games -- a big one between Dallas and Green Bay several weeks ago on a Thursday night and now the Patriots-Giants epic -- were in the spotlight because they were of a magnitude that fans all over the country wanted to see them.
The NFL has wanted to put this on the shoulders of the cable industry but when Congress got involved, namely Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., it was the league who was in the crosshairs. Leahy and Spector co-authored a letter to the league encouraging it to make the game available more broadly. The hammer was that the NFL enjoys an anti-trust exemption that has allowed it to flourish and Congress can always revisit that exemption.
So, in the words of the sometimes endearing, frequently infuriating Terrell Owens, "Getcha popcorn ready."