Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Archaic YouTube Policy of the NFL

Grant Bisbee at the Baseball Nation site has been writing recently about what he calls "The Archaic YouTube Policy of Major League Baseball," pointing out that it's counterproductive for MLB to take down old games presented on YouTube when all they're really doing is promoting interest in baseball. For whatever reason, I have latched onto old NFL games on YouTube rather than MLB ones, as I've brought up on this very site ad nauseum, but I can say that the NFL's policy is exactly the same. Old games stay up on YouTube for weeks, months if you're lucky, before the NFL's rapacious lawyers see fit to enforce their copyright claims.

I totally understand the legal reasoning behind this, but I still think it's dumb. For one thing, if the lack of response to my posts here on the subject are any evidence, I am the only person around who has any interest at all in these games.

More importantly, though, the NFL has shown that they have absolutely no plans to exploit the moldering tapes of these ancient contests. I can say this because a couple of weeks ago, at Christmas, the NFL Network presented a special on the famous 1970 Christmas Day playoff game between the Dolphins and Chiefs, the game that ended up being the longest in NFL history. As part of this presentation, the network planned to show, directly from the original broadcast, the game's overtime period.

Well, if you'll pardon my saying so, whoop de do. I would have a very strong desire to see this broadcast in its entirety, including the commercials, which lend so much of the proper period flavor to these things. But a little piece of it? Eh, maybe. It's hard for me to get excited if you're not going to even bother to show the first 60 minutes of game time from one of the most famous games in NFL history. These people must not be football fans.

So, O lordly NFL, if you don't even have the nerve to show that classic in its entirety, what chance do I have of legally watching the Falcons-Giants game from week two of the 1983 season, as I happen to be doing now? There is zero chance of the NFL displaying this game in any context whatsoever, much less making a buck off of it. So how about you just let me and my fellow YouTubers enjoy it in peace?

Let me add that there is some historical value to this game. It's the second game of Bill Parcells' Hall of Fame coaching career (although I don't know yet whether it's his first win, and don't you dare tell me). John Madden is the color man, before he got elevated to CBS' top broadcasting team; here he's paired with Jack Buck. And he's just amazingly good. Madden is able to describe, in clear and colorful terms, why each play succeeds or fails, with great accessibility and enthusiasm. John Madden is the best TV analyst in NFL history, and here he is in his formative years. Catch him while you can.

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