Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter have succeeded in their battle to get the NFL to show Saturday night's potentially historic (ugh, let's hope not) matchup between the Giants and the 15-0 Patriots on regular broadcast channels. The game was originally scheduled to be shown only on the much-derided NFL Network, which isn't included in most standard cable packages, but will now air on NBC and CBS.
How did Congress manage this, while all the nation's big bad cable companies have huffed and puffed for two years and still haven't blown the NFL's house down? Leahy and Specter went straight for the jugular, threatening to revisit the NFL's antitrust exemption, which is an enormous cash cow for the league, permitting it to negotiate its television contracts in a fashion that would otherwise be illegal. I'm not sure whether this is kosher. On the one hand, I hate the NFL Network as much as the next guy, and it's certainly true that it's up to Congress to decide whether the NFL is abusing its exemption. On the other hand, this isn't the first time Specter has issued this threat, and it doesn't seem right for Congress to raise this prospect every time the NFL does something it doesn't like.