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NFL TV Policy: Let's Not Play Two

September 03, 1993|LARRY STEWART

It didn't happen, but even if the Raiders' season opener against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday at the Coliseum had sold out by 1 p.m. Thursday, 72 hours in advance, it wouldn't have been televised locally.

The reason is the NFL's antiquated television policies.

CBS, which has the Rams and Green Bay Packers at 10 a.m., also is televising the Raider game because Minnesota is an NFC team. But CBS couldn't have shown the Raiders here, even if it had sold out, because of a rule forbidding a network doubleheader in a market where a game is taking place.

A similar situation arose in 1989, when the Indianapolis Colts played the Rams at Anaheim Stadium in Eric Dickerson's first game back after being traded by the Rams.

NBC had that game because Indianapolis is an AFC team. NBC also had a Raider game at Kansas City and was required to show it in L.A. The network couldn't show a second game under any circumstances.

Conveniently, the Rams-Colts didn't sell out until after the deadline for lifting the blackout.

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Something new this season is that each team will have two byes instead of one so that the 16-game schedule is spread over 18 weeks.

The regular season won't end until Jan. 3, and the extra week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, to be played Jan. 30, will be eliminated.

The byes were scheduled to generate more television revenue.

They may provide players who are banged up an extra week to heal, but otherwise they have no redeeming qualities. They just throw everything out of whack.

Fortunately, Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said this week that in the next television contract, the schedule probably will go back to the way it once was--16 games in 16 weeks.

The networks want to go back to the 16-week schedule because there are too few attractive games when entire divisions have a weekend off.

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Add Tagliabue: He expects negotiations to begin this month and for the new television contract to be completed by late December or early January.

The commissioner expects to get as much as the $32 million each team gets under the current contract, and such optimism, in part, comes from the NFL's rating success.

Exhibition games on the three major networks this summer averaged 7.6 ratings, up from 6.1 last season. Regular-season baseball on CBS this year is averaging 3.4, and NBA games on NBC last season averaged 4.5.

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Back at work: Lesley Visser, who was bedridden for more than six weeks after shattering her pelvis when she fell while jogging in Central Park on June 23, had sought to return to work at CBS by the start of the NFL season. She will accomplish her goal.

Visser, who now gets around on crutches, will be in the studio Sunday for the first "NFL Today," to introduce a feature she did this week on Lawrence Taylor.

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Big Joe: CBS' Terry Bradshaw went to Kansas City last week to do a feature on Joe Montana for "CBS This Morning." The first part was shown Thursday, Bradshaw's 45th birthday, and the second will be shown today.

Bradshaw likes it that Montana will have the same system with the Chiefs that he had with the San Francisco 49ers.

"Five-step drop, quick pass, avoid the licks," Bradshaw said from his home in Roanoke, Tex.

But what really got Bradshaw's attention was Montana's physique.

"By lifting weights three times a week, he's up to 205 pounds," Bradshaw said. "He used to weigh around 195."

Of Todd Marinovich, cut this week by the Raiders, Bradshaw said, "I guess he'd rather go skinny-dipping than play football and make a million dollars a year. If he ever grows up, maybe somebody will pick him up."

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Add Marinovich: TNT's Pat Haden has known Marinovich since Marinovich was a child. Marinovich's uncle, Gary Marinovich, was Haden's coach at Bishop Amat High.

"It's really a sad situation," Haden said. "If he didn't have the ability, that would be one thing. It's just such a waste, and I hate to see anything go to waste, whether it's athletic ability, food, or intellectual power."

TV-Radio Notes

Keith Jackson will tape an interview with Don James today that will be shown at halftime of Saturday's Stanford-Washington ABC telecast. . . . ABC also sent reporter Mary Ann Grabazoy to South Bend, Ind., to do a report on Lou Holtz and all his troubles. . . . ABC is again offering college football on pay-per-view this season. The main difference is that the telecasts are being distributed by ESPN's new pay-per-view division rather than Showtime Entertainment Television, a division of Showtime. Also, the telecasts will be available in about 20 million homes, a 50% increase over last season.

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