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Accept offers shut-out Dallas, Green Bay fans limited free views of game

It's one of the biggest games of the year, but odds are, you won't be able to watch it. The NFL wants to compensate by giving fans free access to limited live looks at the game on its Web site.

Leave it to the NFL to find an inadequate solution to the problem created by putting big games on its poorly distributed NFL Network.

If you're a football fan, you're no doubt very well aware that tonight, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers face off in one of the biggest games of the year. Yet, unless you happen to be a subscriber of one of the few cable or satellite services that carry the NFL Network--where the game is being broadcast--you won't be able to watch the game.

The Dallas Cowboys versus Green Bay Packers game Thursday night will be available only on the NFL Network, which reaches a limited national audience. To compensate, is offering free access to live 'look-ins' on the game. NFL

Ah, but if you happened to pick up Thursday's New York Times, you might have come across a full-page ad with a big welcome message: "NFL fans, The National Football League wants you to see tonight's big game between Green Bay and Dallas.

"Despite our best efforts to reach agreements with all cable companies, we were unsuccessful."

The ad goes on to trumpet the new Live service which, the ad seems to indicate, will allow fans to watch the game live on the Web or on their Sprint Mobile-enabled phones.

"For fans who don't have NFL Network--introducing Live--an exclusive live broadcast covers tonight's game from all angles on," the ad continued. " Live Thursday Night Football will be anchored by a live, originally produced video program with live game look-ins, complimented by highlights, studio analysis, and exciting interactive applications."

Yes, it's true, the NFL misused the word "complimented."

But that's neither here nor there.

It turns out that what the NFL is offering via its free Live service is a very limited set of short "look-ins" on the game. Mostly what fans will see while the Packers and Cowboys bang away on the gridiron will be talking heads in a studio analyzing the game that most fans can't see.

And that's too bad, and emblematic of the shift in attitude by the various professional sports leagues to make it hard for their fans to actually see the games they want to see. And if, by some chance, the NFL had decided to make the entire Dallas versus Green Bay game available online, it would have likely been one of the biggest Web events of all time.

But they would never do that, because giving their fans what they want is somehow not a desirable thing for the league.