An Open Letter to the NFL, Fans – the ‘punishment’ must stop


This offseason, I made some changes. I signed up for DIRECTV.

I have been mulling over the move for a couple of years now – but that commercial featuring Brian Urlacher, talking about hidden fees and contracts and price gouging, scared me a little bit.

Thanks, Brian.

However, I couldn’t resist the first year of Sunday NFL Ticket being absolutely free.

Why, you ask?

I am a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan … living in Jacksonville, Fla. I have been reduced to a life of listening to the audio of games, relying on NFL Mobile updates and highlights and only being able to see the full game 3-5 times a year, on prime time.

No more.

However, living in a state where there are currently three in-market teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins), isn’t always easy for an out-of-market fan.

Take for instance, this past Sunday afternoon, when the Green Bay Packers traveled to Miami to tackle South Beach and the Dolphins.

I taped the game while I was at work; looked forward all day to coming home and watching it, especially after hearing how it ended.

Got home, threw on my Packers’ pajamas and settled in with some chips and a coke icee – turned on the game – what? BLACKED OUT? How is that possible, I have NFL ticket! I should be able to watch whatever I want, when I want it. It’s right there in the description!

Suffice to say … I was unhappy. In lieu of this, I would like to address the NFL, all 32 teams and their fans … for just a moment:

To Whom It May Concern,

I am not usually one that complains. It’s too much expended energy, if I’m being honest. However, my gripe (while at first glance should be directed at my cable provider), is with the NFL and their fans, collectively; and it is something that needs to be addressed.

If you are one of the 32 cities that has been blessed with an NFL team – congratulate yourselves. Not only does an NFL team bring financial investments and business to your city in a way that no other corporation can, it also brings with it an element of pride and solidarity that is rare.

Now, I can say this with a degree of certainty because I live in a city with a football team; and it is the worst team in the league. There was a time when the NFL and its networks would “punish” the city by blacking out the games on TV that didn’t sell enough tickets.

After many, many, many losing seasons … the city of Jacksonville decided to see all the positives that having one of 32 teams could bring to the city and its fans, and they began to “show up” rain or shine, win or lose.

Sadly, this “fair-weather-fan” mentality is still running rampant through other parts of the country, as was the case in Miami this past week.

So, because Miami and its surrounding citizens aren’t backing their team … because they aren’t investing in an organization that is investing in THEM … [in-market] fans of out-of-market opponents are the real losers. I just happened to be close enough to Miami to be included in the punishment.

Shame on you, Miami.

And shame on you, NFL; the fans are the ones who pay the bills, let’s be honest for a second.

We are the ones buying into the brand. We are shopping the merchandise, the apparel, the expensive cable packages that allow live streaming of any NFL game, any given Sunday.

Yes, you are investing in 32 distinct cities, in 32 distinct cultures and environments and markets. But, we are returning that investment two-, three-, four-fold. You’ve done your job – you’ve cultivated a love of football in every corner of the United States, the WORLD even. But our love for the game has no boundaries and shouldn’t be held on the premise that another group of fans in another city empties their wallets for tickets.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to be buying Jaguars season tickets any time soon, but I will admit that there are advantages to having the Jaguars in town. There is a unity, a camaraderie in the city that is special.

That is what you’re missing, Miami.

You sell out for your team because they are always selling out for you. They might not have a recent championship and they might not break any records or produce any headlines … but they do sell out for you and your city.

They put their heart and soul into the game and they need your support. Even if they never win a game – their presence is still financially supporting your city and creating jobs and revenue that wouldn’t be available otherwise.

So buy a jersey or a hat and take a little pride in your home team. Every once in awhile, go see a game, if for no other reason than for the experience of having an NFL game take place in your backyard. Do it for yourselves and your city and those guys who don those pads every week – and do it for those of us who are sitting at home, hundreds of miles away from their favorite team, who are counting on YOU to end the blackout.