Senators Press NFL To Include Vermont In New England Patriots' TV Market

WASHINGTON, October 29 - Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has been joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a bipartisan group of a dozen other senators urging National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to make NFL games widely available to fans in markets outside cities in which NFL teams are based. On Nov. 6, the NFL again is scheduled to begin restricting games to the NFL Network, rather than over-the-air television.

Leahy last year urged NFL officials to broadcast the much-anticipated final regular season game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants, which was not scheduled to air in many parts of Vermont. The NFL ultimately reversed that decision, and the largest audience for a regular season NFL game was able to watch the game, broadcast nationally on over-the air-television.

This year, the New England Patriots' game on November 13 against the New York Jets is set to be telecast on the NFL Network and is not scheduled to be available over-the-air in most of Vermont, because the NFL still does not consider Vermont to be part of the New England Patriots' home market.

"That the NFL would choose to have fewer viewers for select games again this year is an indication of its interest in moving toward a pay television model," the senators, led by Leahy and Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), wrote to Goodell.

The NFL's narrow interpretation of the "home cities" of NFL franchises has led viewers and fans in Vermont and across the country to miss broadcasts of team play. Senators from Vermont, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Wyoming and South Dakota joined Leahy in sending the letter.

The text of the letter is below, as well as available as a PDF here.