Volume 2 , Number 10
Nov , 1997
The hell that is "regional action"
By Dean Shutt
It's Sunday around 3:00 PM and the football day is already over for me. Why, you may well ask, am I finished watching football at 3 o'clock pacific time? The reason for my early exit from NFL action is actually quite easy to explain. You see, I live in the SF bay area. Usually I am forced to watch the Niners beat up on some hapless divisional opponent and then watch the Raiders stumble through one of their weekly embarrassments. Granted, this season the Niners are not as dominant as in the past. Also, the Raiders do us the favor of not ever selling out, so we aren't forced to watch them on a weekly basis.
So what do the football lords do on the odd Sunday that neither of the local teams are playing? Do they look at the schedule and give us the most competitive matchup? No, don't be silly, they give us regional action. I fully expect that there is a special ring of hell reserved for the person that came up with the concept of regional action. The idea is simple, if you're home team isn't playing then you would probably like to see a team that is at least close to home. Failing that you would probably like to see a marquee team. The one little thing they don't consider is that some of us out there are actually football fans. We don't care who is playing, we just want to see a good game. This is the reason I gave up on college football a long time ago. They seem to think that I will really enjoy watching Florida State whip up on Eastern South Dakota Tech. Instead of looking for the best matchup they just put on the biggest names, no matter who they are playing. The NFL seems to think that this is a great idea.
Today's NFL menu was a perfect example. In the morning we got to experience the special joy of the 4 and 0 Broncos versus the 0 and 4 Falcons. No don't get me wrong, I like the Falcons. I think that they are a year or two away from being a respectable NFL franchise. It's just that right now they suck and don't deserve to share a field with the Broncos. Now I hear you saying that on any given Sunday any team can beat any other...blah, blah, blah... That's bullshit and we all know it. For every stunning upset there are twenty really boring blowouts by the better team.
The second game of the day was Chicago at Dallas. Yes, I know the storyline, Wannstadt returns to Dallas...yada, yada, yada. Give me a break already. It might be story if Dave rides back into town with a team other than the Bears. I mean come on now, Mirer vs Aikman, Proehl vs. Irvin, that guy Chicago has returning punts vs. Deion. This is the best matchup that the NFL can give us in week 5?
I'm not asking for the folks that make these decisions to be seers or anything like that. All I'm asking for is to pick the matchup that has the most potential for a closely played game. If Pittsburgh is playing Tennessee at the same time that Denver is spanking Atlanta, give me Steelers/Oilers. I don't care that both of those teams play their games 3000 miles away. If you have two viable contests then by all means show me the West Coast teams, but show me the best game. It isn't as though regional action really means anything in this day and age anyway. Go down to your local Sports Bar on any given Sunday and see how may out of town jerseys you can find. In today's mobile society fans are far more likely to enjoy a game between two teams from the other end of the Country.
As you can probably tell it hasn't been a great football year for me thus far. First I am forced to go free agent to find a competitive team to root for. Then my Penn State Nittany Lions are once again dumped from their number one spot in the polls because Joe Paterno has too much class to run up the score. Now I am forced to sit through blowouts on Sunday to appease the Gods of regional action. It really is enough to make me miss the WNBA.
Well folks, you may recall that last month in this space I declared my free agency as an NFL fan. I then sent letters to 28 NFL teams explaining the situation and my demands. As of this writing, I have received responses from Six NFL teams. I don't want to get into specific offers at this point, for I fear it would influence other teams' bids. Here is the ranking of the six teams I have heard from so far, they are ranked by overall attractiveness;
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