In recent years the WWE has made a killing on wrestler themed DVD's that feature several full length versions of classic matches. Now not necessarily influenced by the WWE but Major League Baseball has now started releasing DVD box sets of classic World Series featuring full length games from the entire series. This year they've released 1975, 1979, and 1986 World Series on DVD and I'd imagine there will be more of this in the future. Even though I'm not a fan of the Reds, Pirates, or Mets I do plan on buying these sets once the price goes down. Now a couple of years ago the NFL started releasing box sets called the "NFL Super Bowl Collections." This confused some people as they wondered if these were original broadcasts of the NFL games or not. Of course they weren't as they were just the classic half-hour highlight films of the games done by NFL Films that anyone can see on ESPN every January.
Now before they changed their programming a little over a year ago ESPN Classic was paradise for a diehard sports fan who loved watching classic sporting events. You could find original broadcasts of classic MLB, NBA, NHL, college football, college basketball, boxing, and racing on a regular basis. There was one thing always missing though and that was original broadcasts of classic NFL games. This always had struck me as unusual. Given that ESPN has been televising NFL games since 1987 and with their deal with ABC you'd figure at the very least they'd be able to show classic Sunday & Monday Night Football games but no such luck.
I've searched as much as I can but I've never been able to find out why the NFL refuses to allow any broadcast of this archived footage. When the NFL Network started up a few years back I always assumed that they would air classic games on the channel. With 24 hours to fill on a channel that would only interest serious NFL fans you would think they would fill some of that time but showing classic games but they do not. My only theory has been that given the deal with NFL Films it seems that the NFL only wants them to be the sole history teller of their sport. Back in the late 90's they started putting together NFL Films versions of full length historical games such as Super Bowl III and the 1982 NFC Championship game. These were kind of cool when they first aired but they've only done a handful of games and they still don't have the feel of watching an original broadcast game.
I will continue to not understand why the NFL sits on a goldmine they have. These classic games are just sitting there with no one to see them. With MLB now jumping on the DVD bandwagon of selling classic footage you'd hope the NFL will do the same in the future. The sales just for boxed sets of full length Super Bowls would be through the roof especially if they packaged them for particular teams like the 49ers, Cowboys, and Steelers. The NFL certainly has never turned down the chance to make more money and I don't see why they refuse to do so in this case.