Hey, money players: We want games

The Baltimore Sun

In this space, I've been given permission to vent a bit. You know, pick a topic or two and proffer a considered opinion - or let loose with an irrational rant.

But I'm grateful for the opportunity, and in the spirit of our patron saint, H.L. Mencken, who exhorted those in the Fourth Estate to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, I'm going to rail against two heavyweights - the NFL and the cable industry.

The 11-0 New England Patriots are in town tonight, Baltimore being their latest whistlestop en route to potential NFL immortality. And should they arrive at Game 16 undefeated, the Pats make their play for perfection against the New York Giants on Saturday, Dec. 29. But if you're counting on bearing witness to NFL history, there might be a snag. This is another one of the NFL Network games.

So how come the NFL Network, which began televising a handful of games itself last year, isn't on standard cable? Money, of course. You're shocked, right? Some cable heavyweights contend that the NFL wants to charge too much per subscriber to be on standard and either don't carry it at all or have relegated the league's network to some subscription plateau that would require customers to pony up even more cash. The league says the cable guys are penalizing football fans. The cable guys say they're looking out for the interests of all those subscribers who don't give a hoot about the NFL.

I say, "Work it out!" The NFL is poking around Washington looking for relief. I say legislators should remind the league and cable industry of the perks they've already received (Can you say antitrust? How about monopoly?) and bang some heads on behalf of their constituents. Just show us the games!

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