NFL lifts television blackout

  • By Scott M. Johnson / Herald Writer
  • Thursday, January 6, 2005 9:00pm
  • Sports

KIRKLAND – Thanks to an eleventh-hour push, this Saturday’s playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams will be televised locally.

The team sold enough tickets by Thursday’s afternoon deadline that the NFL lifted its television blackout. More than 3,000 tickets were sold in the final 12 hours to secure an unofficial sellout.

“There’s been some conjecture about support, but this represents our 16th consecutive sellout,” Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said. “That’s the longest sellout streak since the early ’90s, and we’re thrilled. We have great fan support. To sell 66,000 tickets in 72 hours, we’re very proud of that. And we want to put on a great show for them.”

The team sold 60,000 tickets in the first six hours they became available Monday, but sales slowed considerably over the next three days. The team had to get a blackout extension just to have a chance to get it televised locally.

The playoff game will be shown on Channel 4, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

There are still a limited number of tickets available for the game. They can be purchased by calling 1-888-NFL-HAWK.

Robinson to suit up: While stopping short of saying that Koren Robinson would play, Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren confirmed that the wide receiver would dress for Saturday’s game.

Robinson was benched last weekend after missing a Saturday walk-through practice. He met with Holmgren on Monday, then the coach consulted a players committee before deciding Robinson’s future fate.

“There are a few things he has to do (off the field), which he says he is willing to do,” Holmgren said. “As far as what he will do in the football game, we haven’t decided yet.”

Robinson strained a hip earlier this week but was able to practice Thursday. Jerry Rice worked with the No. 1 offense and is expected to start in the game.

Also returning to practice were wide receiver Darrell Jackson (hamstring) and offensive lineman Jerry Wunsch (illness). Both are expected to be available Saturday.

Wistrom holds out hope: Only three players missed practice due to injury Thursday, including two – defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs and wide receiver Jerheme Urban – who won’t play in the game.

Then there is defensive end Grant Wistrom, who has only a remote chance of playing but hasn’t given up hope.

“I’ve still got my fingers crossed for this week,” he said Thursday. “I’m thinking that I’m playing on Saturday. If it’s not this Saturday, then the following game. But I’ve got all hopes that I’ll be playing this Saturday.”

Wistrom missed the last three games of the season with a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He is not expected to be back for another week or two, yet Wistrom has been unwilling to concede the Rams game.

Wistrom said that playing against his former team is only one of many factors that are motivating him to get back on the field. The biggest one is that he doesn’t want to watch his season end while standing on the sideline.

Wistrom missed most of training camp due to a foot injury and had to sit out seven games in the regular season due to two unrelated knee injuries.

I’ve never been snake-bit like this before. Hopefully this is the end of it. Hopefully I never miss another game as long as I’m in this uniform.”

Jones named All-Pro: Walter Jones got more than twice as many votes as any other offensive tackle, earning a spot on the Associated Press All-Pro team.

No other Seahawk made it, although running back Shaun Alexander, fullback Mack Strong, guard Steve Hutchinson and cornerback Marcus Trufant all received votes.

Alexander finished fourth among halfbacks, behind the New York Jets’ Curtis Martin, San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson and Indianapolis’ Edgerrin James.

Jones had 34 votes, while Cincinnati’s Willie Anderson and Kansas City’s Willie Roaf had 16 each.

Votes are cast by national media members.

Tempers flare: Things got a bit tense before Thursday’s practice, as a fight broke out between players.

Holmgren mentioned the fight during his post-practice press conference, but he did not name names.

“As much as I don’t like those, everyone is edgy, which is pretty good,” Holmgren said. “I was upstairs. But I kind of heard this mini-rumbling down there. It was pretty good. I think a couple coaches were in there, players, trainers, equipment guys, everybody.”

Despite the altercation, Seattle’s players and coaches believe that their solidarity is as tight as ever.

“It won’t affect us,” defensive end Chike Okeafor said. “You’re going to have things like that.”

Quick slants: Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 1,140 yards and 10 touchdowns in his last five games, was named the NFC’s offensive player of the month for December. Hasselbeck has averaged 257.1 passing yards per game in December and January during his career. … Seahawks reserve offensive lineman Wayne Hunter was excused from Thursday’s practice. … Game balls from last Sunday’s win were handed out Thursday. They went to Bobby Engram (offense), Chad Brown (defense) and Jordan Babineaux (special teams). … Everett High School product Chris Chandler, who started at quarterback for the Rams two weeks ago, has been demoted to fourth on the team’s depth chart. He’s behind Marc Bulger, Jamie Martin and rookie Jeff Smoker.

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