Per some good research by ESPN’s Pat Yasinkas, Fox is planning on playing the Cowboys-Colts game nationally (in around 80-90 percent of the country) instead of the match-up between the Falcons and Bucs. Now I understand the reasoning for this decision, which I’ll get to in a moment but this is a really asinine decision.
Obviously when you’re discussing national fan-bases it’s not even a comparison between the Colts and Cowboys and the Bucs and Falcons. Atlanta enjoys a fairly poor reputation as a sports city (I was born there, I can comment) and the Tampa Bay area has its own set of attendance issues at the moment. The game won’t even be televised in Tampa because the Bucs haven’t sold out a single game all year.
And that’s all well and good, but as a non-aligned fan would you rather watch a couple of teams with good fan-bases or a good game with actual playoff implications? The Colts are 6-5 and while I have the utmost respect for Peyton Manning, even he is begin to struggle beneath the massive toll the Colts’ injuries have taken this season. The Cowboys are just awful at 3-8. The NFL and the national media won’t shut up about Dallas until they’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but call it what it really is, they were done a month ago.
On the other hand you have the Bucs at 7-4 squaring off against the 9-2 Falcons in a game with real NFC playoff ramifications. While I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the money-grubbing network that brought us the dancing robots and probably invented the commercial break immediately following the kickoff is pandering to the fan-bases that will probably bring in the most money, it is a sad commentary about the nature of the NFL. They could care less about putting the best product out there, they only want the most profitable one. That’s no different than any other business, but the NFL isn’t so honest about it.