With some of the new rules the NFL has instituted limiting the access of the media to the teams, the flow of information has been somewhat restricted. As the league moves closer to its own network and their partners, it also is moving closer to an attempt to manage the news and information that comes out of each club.
Most of the changes will have no effect on fans, unless they’re interested in the unvarnished truth about injuries and other assorted things that could have an effect on the outcome of the game.
Reporters are not allowed at practice after the first thirty minutes. Most of that involves stretching and agility drills. That’s why Marcus Stroud’s ankle injury wasn’t revealed until the next day when he didn’t show up for practice at all. The injury is serious enough that Marcus had an MRI on Thursday and he probably won’t play on Sunday against Dallas. If that’s the case, it’ll be the first game Marcus has missed in his five years as a professional.
If you don’t see the kind of coverage of NFL teams on your local television stations league wide throughout the year, that’s because of the league’s new rule barring local photographers from the games. Teams have tried to tiptoe around the rule, allowing a “pool” camera (Channel 4 and Channel 12 are working together this year on this project) but the ability to get the video necessary to do the personality profiles and such is no longer there. Again, a small effect on fans in general, but another piece of information that’s being limited.
Pete Rozelle, the former commissioner, warned against the NFL becoming a “television studio league” but with the development of the NFL Network and the big money, Disney, Fox and GE have given the league to televise the games, the privileges of coverage from an electronic standpoint are going to those who write the biggest checks.
Outside of post-game press conferences, the Jaguars have split Jack Del Rio’s media time between electronic and print. There are a couple of silly justifications given for this. The writers don’t like the answers to their questions being used on TV, and Jack Del Rio doesn’t like his banter with the writers, particularly the beat writer for the local paper, to be recorded on videotape. Yet, the writers are given a transcript of the electronic press conference and the PR staff gathers quotes that are handed out to the media.
While all of this sounds like media whining and carping and its effect on fans is minimal for now, it’s a bad trend for the league. Players are already substantially removed from the fans based on the economics of the pay scale. They’re less and less a part of their communities and more and more a part of a larger “NFL” community.
As teams continue to ask for higher ticket prices and more commitment from local governments to build stadiums and give business breaks, the league should be finding ways to get closer to its fans, not farther away.