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Mailbag follow-up: TV doubleheader explained

1/2/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Regular contributor Ant from San Francisco expressed surprise when Bay Area fans witnessed two NFL doubleheaders on network TV in Week 17, a rarity.

The 49ers came through with an explanation. Ant was on the right track in theorizing that a fourth game on TV represented "some sort of league gift due to it being Week 17."

According to the 49ers, the league allows for flexibility in Week 17. Early last week, the league notified the 49ers that the Dolphins-Jets game to decide the AFC East title would air locally on CBS, opposite the Redskins-49ers game on Fox. Similar arrangements were made in other markets, including Houston.

The extra game allowed 49ers fans to watch their team and non-fans to watch the more compelling matchup. Ant was certainly appreciative: "We used to get the top game, but when the Raiders moved back, we got stuck with them. Even their blackouts mean we may get a superior late game, but not the doubleheader if it's on an alternate network."