Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dark match?

There hasn’t been a Browns game blacked out in Cleveland since 1995, but the last one I remember was probably around 1987. It was a matchup against Oakland, and since my family didn’t have cable (pay TV stimulated the tingly, bulbous parts, my father explained sternly), I squintingly tried to watch the game through the ant races of static on Channel 2 out of Toledo.

The broadcast came and went; I soon became frustrated and shut off the television. As annoyed and disappointed as I was about missing my beloved Browns that day, I can’t say I’m feeling those emotions this week as darkness hangs over the upcoming contest against San Diego. What I’m feeling, unfortunately, is nothing at all, and perhaps I’m not alone. I wonder if the looming blackout is the surest sign that people are as sick of this organization’s everlasting on-field struggles and tri-annual front-office upheavals as I am.

All is not lost for those who want to torture themselves for three hours this Sunday, however. Per Tony Grossi of The Plain Dealer.

The Browns were granted a 24-hour extension by the NFL to avert their first local television blackout for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

The Browns would not give a specific number of tickets that need to be sold for the blackout to be lifted. They reported "a few thousand tickets" remained. The NFL frequently will extend the 72-hour blackout deadline if the home team is close enough to realistically have a chance to sell out the game.

The remaining tickets must be sold by Friday at 4:05 p.m. for the blackout to be lifted. Otherwise, it would not be seen on TV within a 75-mile radius of Cleveland.

The Browns have not had a game blacked out on local TV since they returned to the NFL in 1999.

I’d guess that some beneficent soul will step forward and buy up the remaining seats. Even so, it seems that the Browns ongoing ineptitude, in combination with a slowly recovering economy, has taken the sheen out of Cleveland’s so-called “Teflon franchise.” Maybe after 11 years of this mess, people really are mad as hell, and they’re not gonna take it anymore.

It’s about time.