Congratulations, football fans! Pop open a cold one and celebrate the glorious news brought to you by Dallas Cowboys owner and new chairman of the NFL Network Ownership Committee Jerry Jones and Cox Oklahoma president Dave Bialis.
Last Thursday, the influential duo gathered the local sports media together in Oklahoma City to announce an agreement between Cox Communications and the NFL Network.
Cox will carry the NFL Network in high-definition beginning Nov. 20. Basic cable subscribers must add-on a sports and information tier but digital cable subscribers will receive the all-football, all-the-time channel. Great news, right?
The expression "Never look a gift horse in the mouth" comes to mind. The meaning? A horse may look frisky and lively, but, only after further inspection of the horse's teeth can one determine the health and approximate age of the horse.
Or, perhaps it simply states be happy with a free horse. Either way, let's open the mouth and closely inspect the incisors.
A quick visit to iwantnflnetwork.com would have you believe cable companies were the root of all evil. In fact, the alleged bully tactics used by the nation's cable distributors is unfair and borderline a monopoly. The oppressive cable companies are doing all possible to keep the poor little NFL down. Sarcasm off.
The propaganda on the site would make WWII historians proud. Links to media reports of gloom-and-doom for all cable companies who refuse to air NFLN via basic subscriptions are plentiful. Loss of revenue, loss of customers and loss of limbs--ok, the last one is complete fabrication.
And to a degree, they are absolutely correct. Certain diehard football fanatics (who shall remain nameless) have recently made the jump from cable to DirectTV. Two reasons. The NFL Network, but more importantly, the what-dreams-are-made-of Sunday Ticket. If you are unfamiliar with the Sunday Ticket, this article is not meant for you.
To order the Sunday Ticket, you must subscribe to DirectTV programming. The Sunday Ticket is the splendid program which allows football fans to choose any game on any given Sunday.
You can actually watch every game at the same time! The problem? Not everyone has access to DirectTV.
There are limitations due to mounting a satellite on a roof. Also, you can bypass the roof mounting if you are willing to have a large metal pole erected to hoist the dish instead.
In essence, the NFL powers-that-be want to force cable providers to carry the NFLN on basic cable. However, they refuse to allow the same cable companies the right to broadcast the Sunday Ticket. The NFL/DirectTV contract is exclusive and runs until 2010. Irony?
Wouldn't it behoove the NFL to allow, let's say, Cox Communications to offer Sunday Ticket to digital cable subscribers?
"We are working with affiliated partners to prove the strong value NFL Network brings to a cable lineup and how life is better when you carry the channel," said Jones during last weeks presser.
How is life better? For the NFL? Absolutely! For the average working family who has no need for a dish on their roof? Not exactly. Believe it or not, some families utilize a 19 inch family room television. Do they need digital cable?
"As the only cable provider in Oklahoma to offer the NFL Network, we are thrilled to be part of this exciting sweepstakes promotion," Bialis said. More on said promotion in a bit.
Bialis could have taken his statement one step farther. Cox is one of the few cable giants to deal with the NFL Network in the nation. Most cable providers have dug themselves into the trenches for this battle. Give us Sunday Ticket access and we'll give you NFL Network distribution. Scratch ours and we'll scratch yours.
Am I happy the NFL Network will be available to more Tulsans? You betcha. Is all well between Cox Communications and the NFL? Probably not. The one-upmanship between the two is ongoing as evidence by the channel's location on your dial, Channel 723. Not exactly prime real estate. On the other hand, the NFL didn't go out of their way to announce the partnership.
Ah yes, the consolation prize for a lucky NFL/Cowboys fan. Sign up between now and Nov. 20 for Cox Digital Cable and you are entered in a sweepstakes drawing to win a VIP tour of the Cowboys training facility to watch the team practice on Nov. 28. Also, be a guest in Jones's suite to watch the Cowboys play the Green Bay Packers on the 29. The winner will be announced on Nov. 21.
If you win, do America a favor. Please ask Mr. Jones when the NFL will grant all Americans the right to obtain the Sunday Ticket. We don't want to watch America's Team all season in Tulsa.
Last Call. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is it. Your final chance to witness history or something similar. Paul Smith, Chris Chamberlain, Nelson Coleman and Anthony Germany among others will strap the pads on for the last time at home.
H.A. Chapman Stadium is the place to be this Saturday afternoon at 2pm. The Golden Hurricane takes on the Houston Cougars in a clash of C-USA football powerhouses.
Again, it cannot be overstated. This is your absolute final opportunity to see a group of seniors who have brought bowl games, a conference championship and a winning attitude to the TU football program.
Here are the raw, down and dirty numbers on display. TU ranks second in the nation in total offense. A total of 539 yards per contest divided into 361 (air) and 178 (ground). Paul "Sneaky" Smith brings to the game his 27 TD's through the air. By the way, he's also rushed for 9 touchdowns. Sneaky indeed!
Still not sure if you can schedule a little Blue and Gold action into your busy schedule this Saturday? I've taken the liberty of scanning the sports landscape for you. The Sooners take on the Baylor Bears in Norman at 5:30pm. Attend the TU game and make it home by the second quarter.
OSU fans? First off, I feel for you. Second off, you play Kansas. The game starts at 7pm. Two things come to mind. The Jayhawks just hung 76 points on Nebraska. Are you excited to see the massacre at Boone Pickens Stadium? Make it a doubleheader. A competent, well-coached Tulsa team followed by OSU's entombment by halftime.
See you Saturday.
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