Despite receiving approximately $4 billion every year from the sale of broadcast rights, the NFL refuses to release high-angle video that shows the entire playing field to fans or media outlets for fear that it would open up coaches and players to criticism. The video, known as All-22 footage because it shows the actions of all 22 players on the field during each play, is sought by both fans and media members in an effort to get a better idea why certain plays work or don’t work during games. See, The Wall Street Journal.

“No one gets that,” according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. The footage, added another NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello, “is regarded at this point as proprietary NFL coaching information.”

Charley Casserly, a former NFL general manager, voted against releasing the All-22 footage as a member of the league’s competition committee, because he feared it would only fuel the criticism players and coaches receive on sports talk radio and television shows.

“I was concerned about misinformation being spread about players and coaches and their ability to do their job,” said Casserly. “It becomes a distraction that you have to deal with.”

Well, too bad. That’s a distraction NFL general managers, coaches and players should have to deal with. As taxpayers, fans have helped build the massive sports palaces across the country that NFL games are played in and televised from. As such, they are in effect league partners. Fans also indirectly pay the NFL the $4 billion or so that the NFL gets every year from the sale of its broadcast rights (via subscriber fees — which are hidden in cable bills — for networks like ESPN and through being hammered by ads from NFL advertisers).

The time is now for the NFL to make the All-22 footage available to fans, both directly and indirectly via the sports media.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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