September 01, 2003
This almost makes baseball look like a well-run sport

Hey, what do you know? A couple of oligopolists are conspiring to restrain the market in NFL fandom.

You already knew this, but Houston isn't big enough for the Texans and Cowboys to co-exist, either on the football field or, beginning this year, the radio dial.

This is the first year that Infinity Broadcasting Corp., which owns broadcast rights for both teams, is abiding by a reported "gentlemen's agreement" between Texans owner Bob McNair and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones not to arrange broadcast affiliations for the Texans in Dallas-Fort Worth or the Cowboys in Houston.

Thus, the dulcet tones of Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg on the Cowboys radio network will no longer be heard on Clear Channel's KPRC (950 AM) and KTRH (740 AM), ending a long run for Cowboys radio in this market.

I'm not a Cowboys fan (I'm not really a Texans fan, either, but I'm trying to warm up to them), so this doesn't affect me. It still stinks. I'm glad to see that Kevin can pick up the broadcasts from Beaumont, but he shouldn't have to do that. Anyone want to bet that some disgruntled Cowboys fan will file suit before the season is over?

On a sillier note, Norman Chad discusses pregame penalties.

This season, officials will be on the field 45 minutes before every NFL game monitoring both teams. If the referees see anything out of whack, they can throw a flag with the penalty being assessed at the start of the game.

Teams will be penalized for unsuitable behavior such as trash talking, shoving an opponent or even, I suppose, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Of course, this means that, eventually, the Oakland Raiders will be kicking off from their own goal line.


The NFL is a great game. I just don't understand why it now has to extend to the pre-game.

Before you know it, a coach might exhaust all his "challenges" before the opening kickoff.

And if were going to pre-game penalties, why stop at 45 minutes before kickoff? Why don't they observe teams in the locker room two hours before game time? Why not shadow Brett Favre as he drives to Lambeau Field in his pickup listening to Hootie and the Blowfish?

After all, under current NFL rules, a player could rob a string of convenience stores en route to his 1 p.m. kickoff and not be penalized, but if he shouts, "Yo mama!" to a visiting linebacker during warm-ups, he's flagged for 15 yards.

The next time someone tells me that baseball is losing fans because it's too stuffy, I'll be sure to remind them of this story.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 01, 2003 to Other sports | TrackBack

Yow. Beats Questek all hollow for stupid.

Though the bit with the sprinter the other day getting ejected on a TV-inspired false-start rule comes close. TV needs a good bitchslapping for messing with sports it doesn't understand.

Posted by: Chris Quinones on September 1, 2003 7:55 PM

What sort of suit could be filed? I understand the NFL has an exception under federal antitrust law (hence salary caps and all sorts of other policies in restraint of trade). Is there a Texas antitrust law that they don't have an exception from?

Posted by: phil on September 2, 2003 8:48 AM

Phil, I don't have any idea. I just know that when I hear the words "gentlemen's agreement" in this context, it sets off bells. Besides, I never underestimate a pissed-off sports fan. :-)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 2, 2003 9:16 AM

As far as radio broadcasts are concerned, it makes sense that the Dallas Cowboys wouldn't be available in Houston and the Texans in Dallas. Those fans wanting to hear out of town broadcasts can pay $34.95 for the season to hear any game over the Internet.

A good comparison would be with Philadelphia and New York. Although they are seperated by less than 100 miles (less than 60 from my house), you can't get Eagles broadcasts in the New York market. This also applies to television, unless it's a national game or the Eagles are playing either the Giants or Jets.

As for the taunting rule, if you think it's bad in the NFL, try any college sport for a real zero-tolerance policy. I've seen calls made in football (15 yards), basketball (technical foul) and hockey (2 minutes - unsportsmanlike conduct) for taunting. The policy for NFL referees has become the same as NHL referees, baseball umpires, and soccer referees: Once they are on the field, they are in control of what happens, even if it is before the start of play.

These days, "Yo Mama!" should be a 15 yard penalty for a lame taunt. I tend to think that today's players use more colorful language than that. ;)

Posted by: William Hughes on September 2, 2003 10:33 AM

I seem to recall that baseball is the only major sport with an antitrust exemption, which is why they guard it so jealously. Wasn't that why the USFL was able to come into being?

Posted by: Chris Quinones on September 2, 2003 11:49 AM

"I seem to recall that baseball is the only major sport with an antitrust exemption, which is why they guard it so jealously. Wasn't that why the USFL was able to come into being?"

You are correct about baseball being the only sport with an anti-trust exemption. The USFL won its' lawsuit (and $3) against the NFL on that basis.

Posted by: William Hughes on September 2, 2003 12:05 PM

Gentlemen's agreements usually have very few gentlemen involved. This is especially true anytime Clear Channel is involved.

Posted by: Smirking Chupacabra on September 2, 2003 12:12 PM

The comment about the Raiders is priceless. I'm curious - if a player gets ejected before play begins, did he actually play in the game?

Posted by: kodi on September 2, 2003 1:22 PM

Mr. Hughes: With all due respect, a good comparison would not be with Philadelphia and New York. This is Texas. The Dallas Cowboys are popular across all of Texas, and yes, even in Houston. The Oilers never had that kind of appeal across the state, and the Texans don't right now. The Cowboys are bigger than a local/regional draw, and have been on the radio a LONG time in Houston, and all across the state. And would be on the radio this year if not for this little agreement.

As for the (streaming) NFL Field Pass, you're mistaken. They don't broadcast every NFL game, and in fact many Dallas games are missing from their broadcast schedule. The Cowboys Radio Network does not even participate in it, which means those weeks the Cowboys are covered (maybe half the season from a cursory glance), I would be stuck listening to the radio network of Cowboys opponents instead of Brad Sham or a national crew. I think I'll keep the $34.95, thank you.

The Cowboys Radio people say they'll be back in Houston next year. Meanwhile, I'll steal Beaumont's signal and be thankful the Cowboys have appeal outside their metro area.

Posted by: kevin whited on September 2, 2003 6:15 PM

It absolutely amazes me that the NFL would charge $35 to listen to NFL games. Not watch a video feed, but just listen to the game. There is no reason why this shouldn't be free other than pure greed. Here is the link of an online petition, if anyone is interested.



Posted by: Greg on September 23, 2003 12:17 PM