NFL Net's Decision To Pull Saints Game A "Programming Decision," Not NFL Directive
NFL Network Dir of Communications Dennis Johnson said it was a network "programming decision," and not a league directive, to pull the scheduled airing of the '10 Saints-Vikings NFC Championship game off the air Monday amid the Saints' bounty scandal, according to Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com. Johnson said, "NFL Network has extensively aired video clips of plays related to the Saints bounty investigation on NFL Total Access and during other news reports that are available on NFL.com. At this time, we decided not to air the complete three-hour game and will reschedule the program for a future date." Easterbrook notes like any other station, NFL Network "seeks eyeballs on its product." Right now there is "a lot of interest in seeing what really happened in the Saints-Vikings game, compared to zero interest in Cowboys replays from the Jimmy Johnson era." Yet the network "pulled a hot product off the air, substituting a stone-cold product." Easterbrook: "Knuckleheaded business judgments do happen." However, unless the people running NFL Network "are knuckleheads, there may have been an agenda here." Perhaps the league "did not want viewers to see for themselves how many vicious late hits went uncalled in the game that put the Saints into the Super Bowl" (ESPN.com, 3/6).