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Time for NFL blackouts to go?

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A billboard on Interstate 75 northbound just south of the Hopple Street exit. A billboard on Interstate 75 northbound just south of the Hopple Street exit.
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

So just a day before the NFL playoffs begin the league is facing the potentially embarrassing situation of having three first round games not sold out. 

FOX19's Gordon Graham tells us a lot of folks from sports commentators to politicians are saying it may be time for the blackouts to go.

Television blackouts during the post season are a very rare occurrence. In fact, there hasn't been a post-season black out since 2002 when Miami hosted Baltimore in a Wild Card game so the thought of the Bengals-Chargers match up being blacked out in Cincinnati is causing at least one United States senator to see red.

"You think about the taxpayer subsidies at Paul Brown Stadium and the price of tickets,  it's just pretty outrageous that the NFL continues ... (to) sticking to a policy like this," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod, D-Ohio. 

A policy which has drawn criticism from members of Congress, but perhaps not to the level of legislation.

"I don't think Congress wants to do anything here," Brown said. "I think we have more important things to do than to slap the NFL but the NFL ought to do the right thing here."

Newsday sports media columnist Neil Best says any blackout will hurt the league.

"(If) one or two or all three of those games are blacked out, obviously (that) is going to be a black eye for the NFL so to speak and cause a huge uproar to those cities. And really what it's going to do is fuel a movement that is already going on to end the blackout rule entirely," he said. 

And that's exactly what Cincinnati area restaurateur Jeff ruby wants to see, but in the meantime he's bought 100 tickets himself to give to military families.

"I took the initiative so that other big companies, businesses or public companies would also step up and do the same thing so people who can't afford to go to a playoff game can at least watch it on television," Ruby said. 

Ruby is calling on his fellow Bengal's fans to "light up the switchboard of the NFL commissioner about the blackout rule." Ruby says that might make the commissioner change his mind.

If you want to buy tickets, there's still time. You can head down to the ticket office at Paul Brown Stadium 9-7 today.

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