ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 21: Football fans make their way to Cowboys Stadium before the Dallas Cowboys take on the Tennessee Titans on August 21, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Count yourself lucky if your favorite team resides in the NFC East.
Yes, it is the best division in football, but that's not the point; at this juncture, let's just call ourselves lucky because we will be afforded to watch your respective "team" play football on television on Sundays. Others around the league--Jacksonville, I'm looking at you--might not be so lucky.
Roger Goodell announced today that up to twelve teams are up against a very real threat of local blackouts for the 2009 season.
"[Jacksonville is] one of the markets where we're seeing some challenges from ticket sales coming into the 2009 season," Goodell said in an AP release today. "And we'll have other markets that'll have those challenges. It's all part of the challenges that we're seeing in the economy, and what our clubs are going through," Goodell said. "Our clubs have been working hard in the offseason to create other ways to try to get people in the stadiums and to have policies that are a little more flexible, and hopefully they're going to pay dividends for us."
2009 will be the first full NFL season in the grip of the recent economic downturn; and even though things are beginning to look up somewhat, this has not yet been reflected in ticket sales.
The NFC East won't be affected in any real way, as each three of the four teams therein have sold out all eight home games already; Dallas, who haven't quite sold out, expect no blackouts in the inagural season of Cowboys Stadium.
But this is a problem that could get downright frightening for the league, and those paid to look after it, as the fear of a 2011 lockout grows amidst tension between the players union and owners. The Chargers, Lions, Rams and Raiders are among those who could be affected by the blackout rule, which goes into effect when a team fails to sell out a home game.
Regardless of what L.L. Cool J, the Mannings or Denis Leary might have you believe in those snarky commercials, the plan is inclusive of the DirecTV premium package, meaning that if the team of your choice doesn't sell out, it doesn't matter how much bread you shelled out--you're out of luck, due to, and with apologies from, the NFL.
However, this dystopian nightmare will likely be contained in most cases, as teams look for new ways to entice fans into attending games. Roger Goodell attributed sluggish sales in the preseason to the knowledge on the fans behalf that the level of play will be lower than in the regular season.