by Randy Ooney
My Nickel’s Worth by Randy Ooney
It’s football playoff season once again. Time for the NFL to fish the old Blackout blanket out of the closet and threaten all of their loyal fans with no TV if they are naughty. It used to work. In Minnesota, back in the 70’s, Burger King’s parent company, Pillsbury, purchased all the remaining tickets for playoff games several times so the Blackout blanket would be lifted. Burger King got more good will and publicity than they could buy with advertising, so everyone was happy.
I was a caddy at Oak Ridge Country Club in 1961 when the Purple first landed at Metropolitan Stadium. Max Winter was a member there, and frequently handed out free tickets to the caddies. Of course we each received one ticket, and no one was of driving age, so quite a few dads and moms bought a ticket to accompany their offspring to the games. Later, I was able to drive with my friends and sit in the end zone high school section. Tickets were $1.00. But time marches on, and the NFL now floats billions of dollars around the country during the season.
People who control billions cannot afford to be stupid. (See Bernard Madoff). Buried under the Blackout blanket are a few things they don’t want you to see. Last week, we were threatened, whined, and begged to purchase tickets to the Vikings - Eagles playoff game. The price of two tickets would outfit and sponsor your bowling team for five years. But the faithful have been encumbered with fiscal dilemma beyond imagination. Small and large businesses who hold blocks of season tickets, were not able to justify playoff tickets after laying off 10% of their staff, and cutting benefits for those who remained. I couldn’t afford a ticket, and neither can Joe the Plumber, so a 24 hour extension was granted, then another. They claim they sold enough tickets, so the Blackout blanket was lifted, and out from underneath the blanket popped tens of millions of dollars in TV revenues. The NFL has rules to threaten the fans, but they also have to protect themselves from blacking out millions of dollars of advertising revenue from the sponsors. But everyone ended up happy. Zygi sold his 16 million dollars worth of extra tickets, and we poor but loyal faithful were able to tune in the tube on Sunday afternoon. We were treated to a football game and a ton of free advice about which fast food to buy, what car or truck to drive, which phone service to use, and our favorite beer to drink.
Who knows? Maybe next year we may even get treated to a Viking playoff win.