New blackout rule unlikely to curb fan abuse Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Just two days ago we applauded news that the NFL would be relaxing its blackout rules, thus allowing more hometown fans to watch games on TV.

But there's of course a catch, and the Chargers - who accounted for two of the league's sixteen blackouts last season, with four blackouts the year before - say they will not take advantage of the change.

Traditionally, when a team fails to sell out a game, local fans get screwed over by losing the ability to watch that game on television. The idea here is that the blackout rule encourages fans to attend games in person and drop $100 for a ticket, $40 for parking, and $10 per beer, rather than stay on the couch, watch the game for free, and change the channel during commercials and halftime. As if that's a reasonable choice for many people.

Of all the NFL policies that serve to abuse its loyal fans, there's probably nothing worse than the blackout rule. Fans in areas like San Diego are stressing about whether they'll actually see the upcoming game, rather than anticipating it with excitement. And obviously, plenty of these fans cannot afford the time or money required to attend games in person.

The new policy will allow teams to lower their blackout thresholds to as low as 85% of capacity, which in theory would keep more games on television. Here's the catch, though - the deadline for lowering the threshold is July 15, and there is no turning back. It's not a week-to-week thing; a team can't simply trigger the lower threshold because they're in danger of a single blackout midseason. Once the team drops the blackout figure, it's there for the entire season.

How does this hurt the teams, you ask? There's a penalty - if the Chargers were to drop to the 85% figure, they would have to share a larger portion of their revenues with the rest of the league for every time they sell more than that 85%. Chargers owner Dean Spanos says this is too high a price for the team to consider lowering their blackout threshold, especially since his team plays in an older stadium and lacks naming and signage rights.

Now that we know the catch involved, it seems a lot less likely that any team will choose to lower its blackout figure.

While blackouts are probably the biggest week-to-week fan torture device, there's something even bigger that some fans face on a yearly basis: the threat their team will head out of town. And as for the memo sent by the Ginger Hammer laying out the requirements for teams looking to move to Los Angeles in 2013, Kevin Acee says it was a message intended for the Raiders, not the Chargers. Acee sees no possibility of the Bolts leaving town, at least not next year.

In support of that sentiment, Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani says the memo does nothing to make Los Angeles more appealing for the team.

The fan abuse continues. Thank you, Mr. B.

Broncos

According to Klis, Matt Prater is now the fifth highest paid kicker in the league in terms of average salary.

In a Q&A with the official site, secondary coach Ron Milus says that during OTAs he saw significant strides from Rahim Moore over his play from last season. He also admits he didn't know Chris Harris's name before the undrafted rookie surprised everyone last year, and it sounds like he expects Harris to be the fourth corner behind Champ Bailey, Tracy Porter, and Drayton Florence.

Mike Lombardi thinks we won't really know anything about Peyton Manning's health until he gets hit during the regular season.

Trimmings

The supplemental draft will take place on July 12; eight players are eligible, including TCU RB Ed Wesley, whom Matt Waldman evaluates here.

45-year-old ex-Chargers LB Steve Hendrickson is the latest retired player to speak up about his cognitive problems. Hendrickson believes he suffered around 20 concussions during his years playing college and pro ball, and says he started suffering short-term memory loss while in his 30s. Yet, the NFL's pension system views Hendrickson as suffering from disabilities brought on by non-football injuries. (via PFT)

Bucs CB Eric Wright was arrested on DUI charges in LA; Rams TE Brody Eldridge was suspended four games for violating the league's PED policy.

Exiled Saints coach Sean Payton's rotten 2012 just got worse, as he filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 20 years.

Among the latest chatter from PFW includes talk that RB Steve Slaton could be among those on the bubble in Miami.

Scrapple

Chase Stuart studies running back production by age and finds it difficult, if not impossible, to predict when a player's inevitable decline will come.

Khaled Elsayed examines TE drop data, finding no Broncos since those guys haven't gotten thrown to in ages.

Gil Brandt lists his favorite non-kicker special teams players, with no Broncos among them.

With PK still on vacation, Christmas Ape selected an early 2006 edition of MMQB (after the Broncos' playoff victory over the Patriots) to annihilate.

Offal

In order to help J-Cutty take fewer hits, the Bears are eliminating seven-step drops from their offense.

EA's NCAA Football '13 will allow fans to put Teebs and other Heisman winners on whatever team they so choose.

FDNY was to conduct some experiments yesterday and may update age-old firefighting techniques in response to the dangers of plastics-laden furniture; doing so may start a nationwide trend.

Happy 5th Birthday, iPhone - I think.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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