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Numbers Show Why Talk of AFC Championship Game Being "Fixed" are Absurd.

Byline: Maury Brown

I know, I know. Many of you are saying, "I can't believe I'm hearing this." Truth is, I was surprised, but it's out there, so let's dig into it.

I was on ESPN 1120 in Pennsylvania on Wednesday where one of the questions was, "Could the AFC Championship Game have been fixed to facilitate Ray Lewis ending his career with, at the very least, a Super Bowl appearance, and possibly, win?"

There is talk, and lots of it, every year about how championship games in sports are "rigged" to allow storylines. Whether it's star players, large markets, or storied brands that have national interest, the conspiracy theories run the gamut. So, let's forget that to have something of that magnitude happen it would require the league, refs, and players to all agree to such a thing, and oh, by the way, keep quiet about it to the point where there's no leaks (as if that's ever going to happen). No, here's some facts that undermine the "rigged AFC Championship" nonsense.

To start, you'd have to ask what the ultimate motive is. That means that you're talking dollars. Sure, it's the "story" but doing something as crazy as rigging a game to do just that would be unjustified.

So, it's about being able to bring a larger TV audience which would then mean more TV money, right? The answer is, no. In 2011, all the networks renewed their broadcast deals with the NFL and in doing so, those revenues are locked in. They don't fluctuate whether it's the Ravens or the Patriots.

So, it's about more TV ad money, right? Again, no. All the ad space was sold well in advance. In fact, 80 percent of the television ad space for the Super Bowl was sold 5 weeks before the NFL regular season started.

So, it's about the team brand in the Ravens, right? The Ravens story is great, but nationally, I can't see the Baltimore Ravens having any more pull than the New England Patriots. In fact, it might be the opposite.

So, it's about creating the HarBowl? Hey, this is a great story. Two brothers coaching from opposite sides of the field. But, it gets back to what was said before and that's about the money. Besides, this would mean that you're getting into a discussion about both the NFL and AFC games being rigged which makes Oliver Stone look mild by comparison.

So, this is about Ray Lewis, right? It's a compelling storyline. It's interesting. It's complex. Is it really so big as to warrant rigging a game? I mean, Lewis has already won a Super Bowl. It's because he's retiring? If we go down this road, why didn't we rig games for Dan Marino?

Are we really talking about this in sports media? Are fans really talking about this? Really?

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network (, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog ( He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. ( He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided) (

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Author:Brown, Maury
Publication:The Biz of Football
Date:Jan 24, 2013
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