Tuesday Night Football is on tap in the NFL for the first time since 1946, but is the two-day delay of Minnesota's game at Philadelphia more related to acquiescing to the television networks than the weather?
The NFL announced at midday Sunday that the Vikings-Eagles game was being pushed back from Sunday night because of a major snowstorm that was brewing in Philadelphia and reset for 8 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in part the long delay "will allow sufficient time to ensure that roads, parking lots and the stadium are fully cleared."
But the storm subsided by early Monday -- as forecast. And the hiatus beyond Monday night -- when postponed Sunday games long have been rescheduled -- has drawn cries that the decision was based more on TV contracts than competitive balance. While the Vikes are out of the playoff chase, the NFC East champion Eagles are playing for a first-round bye. But now they'll have only four days to prepare for their season finale vs. Dallas Sunday.
NBC carries the Vikes-Eagles contest and ESPN has Monday night's key NFC South New Orleans-Atlanta game, both national telecasts. Neither NFL nor NBC officials would divulge whether NBC would have been limited to showing the Eagles-Vikes game only in the regions of the participating teams if it had been rescheduled for Tuesday. That's what CBS and Fox are limited to doing when one of their games is moved from a Sunday afternoon to Monday, per ESPN's deal.
"We don't discuss what's in our contracts," NFL director of corporate communications Dan Masonson said. NBC Sports senior director of communications Adam Freifeld merely added he's "not going to go into hypotheticals."
Meanwhile, the postponement irritated Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who told Philadelphia TV station KYW that he did "not at all" agree with the decision that he called a "serious handicap" for the Eagles. He said the game should have gone on as scheduled Sunday.
"This is football; football's played in bad weather," he said. "I think the fans would have gotten there, the subways work and the major arteries are still open, and other fans would have stayed home -- but you play football regardless of the weather. I, for one, was looking forward to sitting in the stands throughout the snow and seeing an old-time football game."