NFL Commissioner Says "So What" to Erie Football Fans
It's long been frustrating for Steelers and Browns fans in Erie. NFL rules say Erie is part of the Buffalo Bills television market, and WSEE must broadcast all Bills away games. Steelers and Browns games are blacked out on those Sundays on WSEE.
Telephones at the station ring off the hook.
"People are very vocal. They're very adamant. They're very passionate about their teams. And they call. And they call. And they want to know what's going on and why can't the local station fix that," says longtime WSEE Reporter Scott Bremner.
Steelers and Browns fans want an answer as to why WSEE must broadcast Bills away games. So 12News came to Chautauqua Institution to pose that question to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell was at Chautauqua to take part in a panel discussion on sports. He met with the media before the forum began. It was explained to him that there are more Steelers fans in Erie than fans for any other team.
"First off, there are fans of the Bills in Erie, Pennsylvania, and there are fans of Cleveland, but you can't show every one of those games. Sometimes they are going to play up against each other. So it's a balancing act that we have ,what we call, "fan friendly" broadcast policies," Goodell responded.
It sounded like Goodell was not interested in doing anything about the situation. When the question was rephrased, the NFL Commissioner showed football fans he does not care about Erie.
12News Reporter John Last: "No offense to Buffalo, but you're saying that there's no way Erie could become a part of the Pittsburgh television market, even though there are more Steelers fans in Erie?
Goodell: "You're right. So what?"
Goodell suggested that fans who want to see their favorite team play every week purchase the NFL Sunday Ticket from a satellite provider. Every NFL game is broadcast on that plan.
Tavern and restaurant owners in Erie do not want to see changes in the broadcast policy. Those businesses get overflow crowds of Steeler and Browns fans who watch their teams on satellite.