Flex, Philly Flakes Rankle Rendell


If only NBC hadn’t opted for the Philadelphia Eagles-Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday night, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell wouldn’t be calling us a bunch of wusses.

NBC, exercising its flex option, picked the big market Michael Vicks and maybe a last national look at Brett Favre over what the NFL originally scheduled on Dec. 26, the disappointing San Diego Chargers against the even more disappointing TO and Ocho Cinco-led Cincinnati Bengals. Obviously both on paper and from a Nielsen DMA perspective, NBC made the right call — until the eastern U.S. got buried by a blizzard.

The NFL, as Philly Mayor Michael Nutter made sure everyone knew, made the call to postpone the game until Tuesday night. The move ended the Peacock’s Sunday Night Football winning streak and will instead give NBC the Tuesday night title.

That bit of scheduling also preserved ESPN’s $1.1 million annual investment in Monday Night Football and its 2010 season finale between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. (NBC pays just over $600 million for its much higher-rated package that also includes a pair of Wild Card playoff games each season and a place in the Super Bowl rotation.) With that high-profile NFC South match-up unencumbered by a shifted SNF, the game should draw a big audience that will enable ESPN to join the rest of the NFL carriers in exceeding their 2009 ratings marks.

On the down side, the Eagles-Vikings game could put Philly at a competitive disadvantage - unless, of course, it loses. An Eagles’ win over the Vikes on Dec. 28 will keep the team’s quest for the No. 2 or even the top seed (if the Saints upset the Falcons on MNF) in the NFC alive. It also means that Andy Reid’s team would have to play three meaningful games, including a playoff contest, in 12 days. (If Minny tops Philly at The Linc, then the Eagles will be slotted third and Sunday’s game against Dallas is meaningless in the standings.)

Now given the rant by Rendell, a part-time NFL analyst on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, on City of Brotherly Love radio station The Fanatic about how the Chinese would never cancel a game and would be working on their calculus en route to the contest and that Vince Lombardi would be aghast over the NFL postponing a game over snowfall, one can only imagine what the Keystone commenter will have to say should things go wrong for the Eagles.