Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown Asks NFL to Reconsider Blackout Policy

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is knocked out of bounds by New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty during the second half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010. The Patriots won 38-24. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer is knocked out of bounds by New England Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty during the second half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010. The Patriots won 38-24.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Football season has started, and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio wants to make sure his constituents enjoy as much of it as possible. The Democratic senator sent a letter to National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell last week, urging the league to reconsider its blackout policies, which keep some local games off the air.

"While fans cannot wait for the start of the season, I am concerned that supporters spanning Ohio's small towns and urban cities will be deprived of the chance to watch the Browns and Bengals compete on television," Brown wrote. "While I understand the need for the league to sell tickets and maintain an attractive television product, NFL blackout policies should be revisited as our nation faces the worst economic crisis in generations."

The NFL's "blackout policy" keeps games from airing on local stations in the host city if the game is not sold out 72 hours before kickoff. Last season, the NFL blacked out 22 games, a five-year high. Brown wrote in his letter that more blackouts can be expected, given the rough economy.

"Attending a football game is simply cost prohibitive for too many Ohioans," he wrote.

Both of Ohio's football teams -- the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals -- lost their opening games on the road on Sunday.

Visit CBSSports.com for more coverage of Week 1 of NFL football.



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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