AWFUL OR LAWFUL?
A suit to force the National Football League to lift the local television blackout of the Super Bowl game in Los Angeles on Jan. 14 was denied by Superior Court Judge David N. Eagleson last week. The NFL has said that if all tickets are sold 10 days before the game, there will be a local telecast. The plaintiffs argued that there should be no "sellout" clause at all because a blackout discriminated against Los Angeles football fans. The judge held that before a violation of the equal-protection clause of the Constitution can be claimed, "You have to have a primary right that is being impinged upon. The only right here is to get a television program piped into your house, and I don't think that is a constitutional right."
He also held that NBC was within its rights in going along with NFL policy, and he said he could not lift the blackout just to provide entertainment for local people. "The NFL has designed a product with enormous public interest," said Judge Eagleson. "The NFL and the team owners have a right to merchandise the product in any lawful way they deem appropriate."
And a blackout, he decided, was lawful.
One of the fringe benefits of playing for the Houston Oilers is listening to Coach Bill Peterson, who does things with the language that have not been heard since Casey Stengel was in his prime. After Miami's Jim Kiick and Larry Csonka ran all over his team, Peterson explained, "We just weren't compared for their backfield." Discussing strategy, he said, "We're changing our floormat this week." Of a limping player, "He has a chronicle knee injury." Of the Oakland Raiders: "That Oakland is tough. They timidate your offense, they timidate your defense, they even timidate the officials."
He has said, "This is the crutch of the problem" and "Things are going bad, but we've got to keep our cools." In training camp, he told his squad, "We're all in this together, and don't you remember it." He also spoke of the team's goal for the year: "Men, I want you thinking of just one word all season. One word and only one word: Super Bowl!" And in the waning minutes of a game with Denver, he proclaimed. "Don't you guys think for a minute that I'm going to take this loss standing down."
One day, reflecting on all the problems a coach has in handling the various personalities among his players, Peterson confessed, "Sometimes I feel like that psychiatrist, Frood."
A team of researchers at Brigham Young University wired two members of BYU's football coaching staff to study their heart rates during games. The purpose of the tests, the researchers said, was to determine the extent of cardiovascular stress caused by vicarious involvement. As everyone knows, your heart can be seriously affected by external stimuli, even if you are not engaged in strenuous physical activity.