Missing NFL Blog Post: Self-Censorship or Something Else?
On Friday, the front page of the Houston Chronicle promoted a blog video by NFL columnist John McClain criticizing the new rules on non-NFL sources using off-season video. The video made fun of the 45 second time limit restriction using mini-interviews with different members of the Texans organization, including Texans owner Bob McNair. By the afternoon, the post and the video were off the Chronicle website, though you can still find the original if you have the original links. The above UnCut Video is a copy of it that made it out onto the internets.
So, why did a video with an NFL owner in it get mysteriously pulled off a major newspaper's website? Did they remove the video because the NFL or Texans asked? Or was it removed because they feared what might happen from the NFL, that they would have to remove all videos from their website? Or maybe they figured they could change the policy easier by doing it quietly instead of a video that demonstrates how backwards the NFL is in dealing with non-traditional media. Or maybe they pulled it on purpose to have folks like us pay more attention to it. Hmmm.
The NFL in recent years has been trying to put more video on their own website and team websites. I'm all for that development, but at the same time to try to dramatically restrict non-NFL video on their product in my mind seems short-sided and anti-fan. If the NFL provides good video and commentary, people will go to their websites--they don't need to try to create an unnecessary content monopoly. Devoted fans of a team can't ever find enough information on their favorite team, especially in the off-season.
It's too bad that the blog post was taken off the site. This is an issue that needs to be championed for the fan's benefit. As John McClain wrote in the comments before the blog post was pulled:
"This all started last year when the league began to restrict how many local television cameramen could cover games. It's about video, not print. It's a brave new world when it comes to New Media. We -- the media and the NFL -- are still trying to find a common ground that suits both sides. Here's something especially ridiculous about the new rule: Gary Kubiak wanted to promote a charity event last week. We ran a couple of inches about it in the Chronicle. We wanted to run a video with him talking about it, which would have reached a different audience. I asked the Texans to ask the league if having Kubiak on camera talking about the charity event would count toward the 45 seconds. The Texans said the NFL said yes. That's when I decided to do the spoof of the rule. That was ridiculous. I'll tell you another thing I think is preposterous: I wanted to do a video feature on the three Texans coaches, Richard Smith, Frank Bush and Jethro Franklin, who used to be with the Oilers. I can't because, obviously, it would require more than 45 seconds of them sharing their memories. Unless, of course, it was just good memories. But nobody has asked me about the new rule even though I've done more than 100 of these videos. There should be new guidelines that allow you to have more sound for features, more sound if you're doing a video with a player, coach or executive that's not in direct conflict with what's on the team or league website. For instance, news conferences could be on websites. So could postgame interviews, postpractice interviews with coaches, etc. But if we're doing a video that the team website has no interest in doing, which is just about everything A-M and I do, we should be able to use more than 45 seconds. Anyway, ultimately, I'm hoping Roger Goodell will have time to reconsider this, but the problem is, he's a little busy and this isn't among his top priorities. As for what the league can do, well, we won't know unless there are a certain number of violations. I guess right now we'll be on double-secret probation for going 15 seconds too long. Thanks for watching and commenting. By the way, this video will self-destruct at noon Friday because nothing can be shown after 24 hours. And they can't be archived, either. It's kind of like Mission Impossible, huh?"
He's not kidding about it being a self-destructing video. Not just the video, but the whole blog post.