…because if there is one thing that they don’t need is for the New England Patriots and Tom Brady to have one more reason to think of themselves as underdogs, hated by the NFL and wanting revenge:

Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers … and … and?

The fourth playoff quarterback never appeared in the championship round teaser for the 2017 NFL Playoffs on NFL Network. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was the only quarterback left out.

Let the anti-NFL conspiracy theories commence.

It’s worth noting that if you go to the NFL network twitter feed or the NFL site this story is completely ignored.

Well we can’t assume the NFL has it in for the Patriots, it’s not as if they’re rescinding fines for opposing players body slamming members of the Patriots on the field and celebrating, oh wait.

What kind of message does this send to the rest of the league? For a guy that’s all about integrity, Roger Goodell certainly sends a weird message to the players.

In fairness it might not be about their hatred of the Patriots, it could be all about Brady & Kraft’s public friendship with the president elect, either way if I’m the Steelers I don’t need this right now.

Starting this week I will be an occasional contributor for Watchdog.org.

My first piece for them is titled: The NFL playoffs can teach a lesson about competition and school choice

We are under two weeks away from one of America’s greatest sports spectacles, the Super Bowl, the televised pinnacle of competition in American football. That spirit of competitiveness can tell us something about the importance of school choice.

After the divisional round of the playoffs, four teams out of 32 remain standing- the Patriots and Colts in the AFC, and the Packers and defending champion Seahawks in the NFC.

While people more versed in football can evaluate the probability of each of these teams advancing to the Superbowl and then winning, let’s consider a more interesting set of facts about them:

What does any of this have to do with school choice? Well, you’ll have to click here and read the rest of it to find out.

By Steve Eggleston

A week after completing a regular season that saw the fewest local blackouts of games, two, due to not “selling out” stadiums, the National Football League nearly saw three of its four playoff games blacked out. It took businesses buying thousands of tickets in Cincinnati, Green Bay, and Indianapolis after the 72-hour deadlines to sell out the games were extended, twice in Indianapolis, to end the threat of blackouts of the games on stations with broadcast signals that reach inside of a 75-mile radius circle around the stadiums.

Green Bay has sold out Lambeau Field for every game, both regular season and playoff, since failing to sell out the stadium for a playoff game following the strike-plagued 1982 season, with the regular-season sellouts extending back into the early 1960s. Indianapolis has sold out every game in its series of stadiums for more than a decade. Cincinnati, which had two of its home games blacked out in 2012, sold out Paul Brown Stadium for every 2013 game.

A bit of history on the NFL blackout rule is in order. Prior to 1973, every televised NFL game was blacked out in the city where the game was played. This irked the politicians in Washington when the 1972 Washington Redskins had a great season. They did what angry politicians are prone to do and passed a law requiring the NFL, as well as other sports leagues with national TV contracts, to broadcast a local team’s game if it sold out that game at least 72 hours prior to its start.

The law expired at the end of 1975, but the NFL, not wishing to have its antitrust exemption threatened like it was following the 1972 season, kept the basic parts of that They extended the blackout requirement to any network affiliate with a signal that reaches within a 75-mile radius circle of a stadium. The NFL also allowed teams to purchase regular-season tickets for 34 cents on the dollar, to not count unsold club or luxury box seating against the sell-out requirements, and to ask for extensions of the 72-hour deadline to move any remaining tickets. At the same time, the FCC enacted sports blackout rules that, among other things, applied the NFL’s blackout rule to cable and satellite providers inside the 75-mile circle.

The NFL modified the “sell-out” requirement in 2012, allowing teams to have as few as 85% of the regular seats sold during the regular season to avoid a blackout in exchange for a larger cut of the revenue for seats sold beyond the relaxed “sell-out” threshhold.

Because the NFL both sets the ticket prices for playoff games and retains all of the ticket revenue, neither the reduced-price team buyout provision nor the relaxed “sell-out” threshhold apply for playoff games.

That brings us to this week. I’ll speak of the Packers’ experience because I call Wisconsin home and the Packers my NFL team. There are two sets of season ticket holders because of the legacy of the Packers playing some of their games in Milwaukee. While Lambeau Field holds a bit over 80,000 after the latest expansion, only 68,000 of those seats are “general admission” seats. Even though there are somewhere north of 60,000 people on the waiting list, the face value of the tickets is in the mid-range of NFL ticket prices, between $74 and $97.

Playoff tickets, ranging from $102 to over $300 as dictated by the NFL, went on sale to season ticket holders just after the Packers lost big in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day to drop to third in the NFC North and out of the wild-card hunt, with requirements to buy all three possible home games at the highest available ticket price level and, in a change from prior years, apply any unused balance toward next year’s season ticket invoice instead of having an option to receive a cash refund.

Needless to say, that didn’t receive a good response, with fewer than 28,000 general-admission tickets sold. On Monday, season-ticket holders had an exclusive opportunity to buy just the wild-card game against San Francisco through either Ticketmaster or the mostly-unused Lambeau Field box office. At 3 pm Monday, when tickets became available to the general public, there were still 40,000 tickets.

By that time, the forecast for Ice Bowl-quality cold on a late Sunday afternoon was widely known. Apparently, the NFL and Fox failed to check the forecast before scheduling the game for a 3:40 pm Central kickoff. By 3:40 pm Thursday, there were still over 3,000 tickets available, so the Packers applied for and received a one-day extension. At 9:30 am Friday, the Packers announced they had fewer than 1,000 tickets remaining, and at 11:30 am, they announced that several local businesses and the three Fox affilates that would have been forced to black out the game (Green Bay, Milwaukee and Wausau) had purchased the remaining tickets.

Re-enter the politicians. The FCC already has a proposed rule that would allow cable and satellite providers to ignore blackout rules applied to broadcast stations. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) already have a bill that would strip the antitrust exemption of any league that does any blackout. McCain used this as an opportunity to resurrect his bill.

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This weekends NFL games are an excellent metaphor on the more tragic events of this past weekend.


Looking at the Wild card games
3 times out of 4 the home team (the actual division winner) lost. The one exception was when the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, after a week of breast beating concerning their presence in the postseason , defeated the defending Superbowl champion New Orleans Saints.

All of the predictions and punditry meant nothing, when the actual game was played the only things relevant were the facts on the ground. (Fans of teams like New England should take this to heart)

Likewise in the last election cycle. People claimed that opposition to the health care plan would not work, that opposing a president who was wildly popular would hurt Republicans. That conservatives needed to compromise. As the polls failed to back up those views pundits instead talked about how the John Stewart Rally, the Coffee Party and the idea that the president’s healthcare plan were not as unpopular as people claimed yet when the dust had settled a net gain of 63 seats in the house was the result.

One again prognostications were useless when compared to the actual facts on the ground.

Now we see the violence in Arizona and once again we see an incredible array of pundits making statements concerning the motivations of the shooter. It’s Palin’s fault because of a map icon, it’s the tea party’s fault because of their support of the 2nd amendment, On twitter this morning (1 a.m EST) an incredible array of people are trying to blame Andrew Breitbart.

All of these have in common a complete lack of evidence or objective facts to support their claims, in fact as time progresses the facts tend to show exactly the opposite.

As Glenn Reynolds has pointed out the narrative has been written long before this event and no quantity of facts on the ground is going to change it.

For example an Arizona state senator when faced with the anger and objections of supporters of the US Military after falsely stating the shooter was an Afghan vet (when in fact the Army rejected him) rather than retracting and apologizing (an easy thing, it was early and all the facts weren’t in) instead removed her contact information from her site.

This morning I suspect we will see the usual suspects continue this narrative, unfortunately unlike a football game or an election this isn’t a question of an actual result that is scored. This is all about massaging the ground for political gain. The goal is to influence those who normally don’t pay attention in the hopes that they will dismiss any arguments to the contrary.

With the race card gone the way of the dodo the violent tea party card is about to be played, facts be damned.

It will be up to the American people to decide if this rhetoric will be rewarded or not.