Goodell: Blackouts May Be Widespread

Friday, September 4, 2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 -- As much as 20 percent of the NFL's games this season could be blacked out in the home team's local television market, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday in a meeting with national NFL writers at the league's headquarters.

Goodell said the league's worst-case projection is that 80 percent of this season's games will be carried in the home team's market. Under NFL rules, a game must be sold out at least 72 hours in advance to be televised in the local market of the home team. Last season, only nine of 256 regular season games were blacked out in the home team's market.

At least 95 percent of the NFL's games have been carried in the local market of the home team in each of the last four seasons. However, a number of NFL franchises are having difficulty selling tickets for this season in the uncertain economy. Eighteen to 20 of the 32 NFL clubs have sold out all their home games this season, according to league officials.

The NFL projects that its ticket sales will be down a percentage that's in the "low single digits" from last season, Goodell said.

-- SALARY CAP: Calling the possibility "a strong reality," Goodell said the NFL could have a season without a salary cap in 2010. Asked why, he said "because of the progress to date" in labor negotiations between the league and the players' union. The current labor deal between the league's franchise owners and the players expires following the 2010 season. The 2009 season is the final one in the agreement with a salary cap.

-- REDSKINS: Goodell said he doesn't fault Washington for the revelation that some of their employees sold tickets to ticket brokers, which the club indicated was against team policy.

"Some of their employees did that," Goodell said. "I just want to make that clear. I don't think that was with the authorization of the Redskins. . . . Some of their employees did it, and they discovered it and took actions several months ago. . . . I support that they took actions on it. Dan [Snyder, the Redskins owner] made me aware of it several months ago."

Goodell also did not fault the Redskins for suing ticket holders who'd failed to fulfill long-term contracts.

"Those are decisions that every club is going to have to make and it's not unique to the Redskins," Goodell said. "There are other teams that have done that to enforce their contracts. Most of the time, as you know -- it's not done every time -- it's done with someone who's in a long-term contract in a suite or a club seat."

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