The Baltimore Colts still have about 17,000 tickets left for Saturday's game in Memorial Stadium against the Super Bowl champion Oakland Raiders, and if those tickets are not sold before 12:30 p.m. today the game almost certainly will not be telecast in Washington or Baltimore.
All tickets for a game must be sold 72 hours in advance of the kickoff or the home club is not required, under the agreement between the National Football League and the networks to allow a telecast in that area.
Washington would be blacked out because it is within 75 miles of the game, another provision of the agreement which once was part of the three-year experimental law passed by Congress that expired after the 1975 season.
Bob Cochran, broadcast coordinator for the NFL, said he had been discussing with the NBC network the possibility that outlets in Washington and Baltimore may buy the remaining tickets before today's deadline if there are not too many left.
Cochran noted that the Colt game against New England Sunday was not sold out before the deadline and an oil firm bought the remaining 1,100 or so tickets so the blackout would be lifted.
When it was announced last week that about 2,300 tickets were left, the Colts sold ome 1,200 in four hours before the deadline.
Cochran speculated that people were holding off from buying tickets this week in anticipation of the game being shown on television; because of the prospect of snow and cold weather, and that some people hadn't bought tickets because they thought none were left.
The league usually gets a progress report on ticket sales 120 hours before a game and announces the status of a possible blackout so fans will not be surprised if the game is not shown.
Cochran said he expects Saturdays game will sell out after the deadline, once fans realize it will not be televised, but that would be too late to lift the blackout.
He said he doubts that more than 10,000 tickets would be bought by individuals by the 12:30 deadline.
If there were about 10,000 tickets left then, Cochran estimated it would cost more than $100,000 to buy them to lift the blackout.