NFC South: local television blackout

Around the NFC South

December, 12, 2012
Time for a run through the Wednesday morning headlines from around the NFC South:


Mark Bradley makes an excellent point when he writes that the fact the Falcons already have clinched the NFC South title essentially puts them into another preseason. But the Falcons can’t afford to look at it that way. They still need to wrap up the No. 1 seed throughout the NFC playoffs, and they need to build some momentum as they head into the playoffs.


The team placed safety Haruki Nakamura on injured reserve. That gives the Panthers 16 players who are out for the season. That’s two short of last season's franchise record.


Jeffri Chadiha writes that coach Sean Payton is the person most responsible for the whole bounty scandal. I’d put former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams up there, too. But Chadiha’s point is that Payton’s arrogance set a tone in which an unhealthy culture grew out of control, and I think that’s a pretty accurate assessment of this sordid affair.

Jonathan Vilma has until Wednesday afternoon to decide if he wants to continue with his defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Vilma’s attorney said Tuesday that his client plans to continue with the suit, but we’ll see what happens in the next few hours.


Just in time for Christmas, the Bucs announced they’re cutting prices on about 35 percent of their seats for next season. The team also said prices won’t increase for the other seats. Smart move by a team that’s only had the local television blackout lifted for two home games this season.

Cornerback Brandon McDonald, who was with the team earlier in the season, was re-signed. McDonald should provide some depth after Myron Lewis was placed on injured reserve.

Southern exposure for Week 12

November, 23, 2012
The Carolina Panthers will have a national audience Monday night when they play at Philadelphia. But the other three NFC South teams will get some fairly significant television exposure.

Let’s take a look at the maps on to see what games will be televised in what markets.

The late afternoon game on FOX (with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) between the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers is almost a national game. It will air just about everywhere, except the markets around St. Louis and all of Arizona, where the game between the Rams and Cardinals will be shown.

The 1 p.m. ET game between Atlanta and Tampa Bay (on FOX with Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick) also will be available to a wide audience. It will air through almost the entire Southeast , with parts of Florida as the exception. The game won’t air in the Tampa Bay market because the Bucs didn’t sell enough tickets to lift the local television blackout, and South Florida will get the game between Seattle and Miami.

The game between Tampa Bay and Atlanta also will be available going West. It will air in markets right up to the Louisiana/Texas border. It also will get some play in New England, airing in Boston and several surrounding markets.

Around the NFC South

November, 23, 2012
First off, a reminder that there will be no NFC South chat this week. Now, let’s move onto a quick run through the headlines from around the division.


The injury news was mixed out of Thursday’s practice. Receiver Julio Jones (ankle) returned on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday’s practice. But the news wasn’t as good on linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle). Weatherspoon, who returned to practice Wednesday after missing the past three games, sat out Thursday’s practice and the team said Weatherspoon also had an undisclosed illness. All indications are that Weatherspoon’s ankle has been healing well. If he can shake the illness quickly, I think there’s a good chance he’ll make his return Sunday against Tampa Bay.


Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith sarcastically referred to Monday night’s game against Philadelphia as a “battle of the bads." Can’t argue with him on that. The Panthers and Eagles both are struggling mightily. I’m trying to figure out which team is more dysfunctional. I think we’ll find out an answer Monday night.

Joseph Person has a fine story on Brenda Anderson. She’s the mother of linebacker James Anderson. Brenda Anderson had brain surgery in September and is making a strong recovery.


As the 49ers and Saints get ready to play Sunday, let’s keep in mind that Gregg Williams’ infamous speech came on the eve of last season’s playoff game against the 49ers and several San Francisco players were mentioned in unflattering ways. The 49ers aren’t saying much about Williams’ speech -- at least not publicly. But, if you believe that San Francisco won’t be using that episode as motivation, you don’t know how things work in the NFL. Coaches and players are always looking for motivation.

If injured right tackles Zach Strief and Charles Brown aren’t ready to play Sunday, the Saints say they’re comfortable with going with Bryce Harris as the starter. He stepped in during the last game and did a decent job. But that was against Oakland and San Francisco’s pass rush is a lot better than the Raiders’.

Although San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith has been medically cleared to play, Ed Werder reports that Colin Kaepernick will get the start against the Saints. After watching Kaepernick’s strong performance in his first NFL start against the Bears on Monday night, I don’t think this is particularly good news for the Saints.


The local television blackout in the Tampa Bay area won’t be lifted for Sunday’s game with Atlanta. The Bucs came up short of the 85 percent threshold of selling general-admission seats at Thursday’s deadline. The Bucs are on a four-game winning streak and very much in the playoff picture and the Falcons have the NFC’s best record. I’d like to say it’s surprising that not enough tickets were sold to lift the blackout, but I can’t honestly say I’m surprised. This just shows that even when the Bucs are playing well, other issues (the economy, the transient nature of the local population, etc.) make Tampa Bay a very difficult market.

Wide receiver Arrelious Benn was placed on injured reserve Thursday. The Bucs may miss Benn more as a kick than as a receiver because Tiquan Underwood gives them some depth behind starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Rookie running back Michael Smith could be a candidate to take Benn’s place in the return game.

Bucs will have another blackout

November, 8, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. – Despite winning their last two games and three of their last four, the Buccaneers still aren’t winning at the box office.

The team just said Sunday’s home game with San Diego will not be shown live on local television. Although the Bucs only need to sell 85-percent of their non-premium seats to meet the NFL requirement to lift the blackout, they weren’t able to do it.

Earlier in the week, the team said it was about 9,000 short of reaching the mark. Team officials did not give a final number on how many tickets remained Thursday afternoon.

The Bucs have only had one home game televised locally (an October contest with the Saints) this season. They had only two sellouts in their previous two seasons.