Here are the items that would have been in the column I would have written for Friday's dead tree edition, had there been room:

*Comcast customers get a message when they turn on their TVs telling them the NFL Network might be going away as of May 1. Whose fault is this?


What a shock to hear Comcast and the NFL are blaming each other.

As explained by spokesmen for each, the situation is this: Comcast's contract to carry the NFL Network expires at the end of April. The NFL has been displeased because Comcast carries its network on a digital sports tier, requiring customers to pay extra. The league wants the NFL Network more widely available and has been seeking relief through the courts and the FCC. Though the NFL has been winning so far, these matters are still working their way through the process.

Comcast wants to wait for the process to play out and, in the meantime, would like to continue carrying the NFL Network the same way even after the contract expires. Comcast says if the channel goes away May 1, it's because the NFL pulled the plug.

The NFL says Comcast treats its channel in a different, discriminatory way and the league doesn't want to continue in this dysfunctional relationship.

However, the NFL Network is the fourth-most-expensive channel in Comcast's lineup, and if the channel were available on a wider basis -- such as part of basic, like ESPN, or digital basic, like MLB Network -- Comcast says it would have to pass on the cost to all its subscribers, even those who don't care about watching the NFL Network. (As opposed to consumers who don't care about sports and already are paying for the expensive ESPN.) If the NFL Network were more widely available, not only would the channel gain viewers, but the NFL also would gain revenue.

The statement from the NFL Network:

"Comcast refuses to sit down and reach an agreement with NFL Network on a contract extension that would make the Network more widely available to a larger number of subscribers on its cable systems without the extra monthly fee that Comcast now sets and collects.

"Comcast had carried NFL Network to a larger number of homes without the extra fee during the first three years of our agreement.

"We have more than a month to negotiate with Comcast and reach a new agreement similar to the contracts NFL Network has with more than 300 other cable operators, Telco and satellite companies.  We hope that Comcast will act responsibly, negotiate with us and keep the best interests of the fans in mind."

Comcast's statement: "We have offered to carry the NFL Network under the terms of our current affiliation agreement while the litigation that the NFL brought against Comcast continues, but the NFL has not accepted our offer.   We believe our proposed extension is in the best interest of our customers and NFL fans so that they can continue to have the same access to the Network that they now enjoy.  Because the NFL has not accepted our offer, we are required by regulations to notify our customers of the possibility that the NFL may terminate Comcast's right to carry the Network."

You know, what really warms my soul is how both sides have the best interests of you, the fan and customer, at heart.

*If Ray Lewis knocks at your door, better let him in. That's the lesson to be learned from the next edition of Sport Science (airing Sunday at 11 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet).

The program uses lots of high-tech equipment to film and measure actions of athletes in scientific fashion. In this case, Sport Science decided to compare the Ravens Pro Bowl linebacker with a battering ram. Each would be used to break down a thick, locked door.

Lewis filmed the show -- now in its second season -- in July in Los Angeles. He didn't get paid and stayed out on the field for six hours, said John Brenkus, creator and host of the series.


(The co-creator and co-executive producer is Mickey Stern, a Baltimore native.)

"It's literally a program that people do for free," he said. "By Season 2, everyone in the sports community had seen Sport Sciene. ... The sell just gets easier as the show goes on."

I'll admit to not having seen the show before receiving a preview DVD, but, as my 12-year-old self would have said, it's pretty neat -- measurements of force, super slow motion from all angles.

But what about the risk of injury? (I checked with the Ravens, and a spokesman said the team had no idea Lewis did this.)

"The athletes are in such incredible shape, and we take every precaution," Brenkus said. "Where you get hurt is when you're not actually going full speed."

And they do go all out, he said.


Lewis certainly went all out. The battering ram, wielded by a SWAT veteran, busted the lock and the door swung open. Lewis the human battering ram, in full football uniform, got a running start, lowered his shoulder and knocked the whole door in -- lock, hinges and all. He went flying, landing on the door.

*One minor tweak I might suggest for ESPN's production of the NCAA women's basketball tournament: Find a different spot for scores from other games. The black box you were using in the upper right of the screen blocked out the basket on several  pictures during Maryland's second-round game this week.