Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nixon's Secret Plan (aka Linebacker III)

In 1972 Richard Nixon tried to get the NFL to stop blacking out playoff games by promising to block all congressional attempts to end the league's unpopular regular-season blackouts. The AP reports that Commissioner Pete Rozelle, who worried about playoff games being played in half-empty stadiums, rebuffed the fan-in-chief in favor of a congressional plan he liked better.

Nixon told aides he had the interests of the people of the District of Columbia at heart, at least insofar as 1972's first-round Redskins-Packers game was concerned:

In [a] previously unreported taped White House conversation the week before the first 1972 playoff game, Nixon vented to [Attorney General Richard] Kleindienst and White House aide John D. Ehrlichman about the game not being televised locally.

“The folks should be able to see the goddam games on television,” he said. “Playoff games. Playoffs — all playoff games should be available.

“Now, you might say this. You might also point out, and say listen, just so you understand ... the president is not speaking for himself in this instance, because he’s going to be in Florida. And he’s going to be watching the game in Florida — it’s going to be carried there. But he’s speaking for all the people in Washington that didn’t vote for him,” Nixon said to laughter. The president had lost only the District of Columbia and Massachusetts in his landslide 1972 victory over Democrat George McGovern.

“Put it right that way.”

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