In a weekend devoid of much NFL news, NFL Network has made a little news, thanks to an interesting broadcasting decision.
The league-owned and league-operated broadcast channel televised a marathon of the America’s Game series, documentaries delving into the various Super Bowl champions, all the way back to the inaugural AFL-NFL World Championship Game. From the first through the 55th (the latest one, featuring the 2021 Rams, will likely debut in September), every single episode aired — with two notable exceptions.
The 2002 Buccaneers and the 1995 Cowboys ended up in the “do not play” pile.
The folks at JoeBucsFan.com strenuously objected to the Tampa Bay omission. Our guess is that it traces directly to the fact that Jon Gruden, the first-year coach of the Super Bowl XXXVII champions at the time, currently has active litigation against the league — and because he was forced out of his job as coach of the Raiders after someone (he claims in his lawsuit that it was the league office and the Commissioner) leaked emails Gruden had sent to former Washington executive Bruce Allen in 2011.
Tyler Dunne of GoLongTD.com points out that the 1995 Cowboys also weren’t included. As Dunne speculates (likely accurately), that episode was leapfrogged because it includes extensive narration from former Cowboys P.R. executive Rich Dalrymple, who abruptly retired not long before ESPN.com reported that Dalrymple allegedly had videotaped cheerleaders while they were changing clothes in 2015, and that the team eventually paid out $2.4 million to settle any potential legal claims.
That situation remains conspicuously unresolved, as it relates to possible league discipline. The Cowboys investigated it on their own. The NFL has not responded to past inquiries regarding whether the Cowboys notified the league office of the potential Personal Conduct Policy violation arising from the claims. Amazingly, even though the situation involves the highest-profile team in the league, the issue essentially disappeared nearly as quickly as it had surfaced.
Fifty-five episodes. Two omissions. Plausible reasons exist for the league to refuse to surrender its platform to a pair of men it currently regards as scoundrels. In other words, this was no boating accident.
And, of course, by not just including the two episodes, the league has made it into a bigger issue than it would have been.
Meanwhile, if you’re now sufficiently intrigued to watch the omitted episodes, the 1995 Cowboys can be seen here. And the 2002 Buccaneers can be seen here.
Neither will be seen anywhere on NFL Network, any time soon.