The Wall Street Journal just reported that in 2014 the Federal Communications Commission received thousands of letters allegedly from NFL fans asking that they keep the blackout rule intact, a long-standing policy that gave the National Football League the ability to keep TV stations from airing games that were not sold out.

According to The Verge, many of the letters were alleged to be fake, some used fake names like Bilbo Baggins and others included real email addresses, whose owners claimed they never wrote those letters. Those fake letters were sent to the FCC advocating for the blackout policy.

NFL launched an operation to keep the blackout policy intact

According to the WSJ, the NFL hired four lobbying groups to boost their efforts to protect the blackout rule as the government was attempting to shut it down. The league has claimed no wrongdoing. However, someone in the operation sent those fake letters with the intent to make the FCC believe the fans supported the blackout rule.

Truthfully, the fans had no reason to back the blackout rule. The rule did not help fans as it was intended to sell more tickets. Owners were concerned that their games wouldn't sell out if fans could watch it for free on television at home. There is no reason to believe that they would advocate on behalf of the NFL to the FCC in support of this ridiculous policy.

The NFL continues to lose support from fans.

They were clearly fake letters

It was pretty easy to tell the letters were fake. Many of the names on the letters were names of various cartoon characters and other pop culture icon names like Luke Skywalker, Slim Shady, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even "A Current Resident."

Most of the letters were similarly worded.

The letters started with "I write as a football fan" and called for the rule to stay because, without the blackout rule, premium sports channels could increase their fees to broadcast games. A majority of the letters also said that the "league, my community and fans win when home games are sold out." The WSJ even said that submitting fraudulent statements to the federal government is a felony crime.

To hide the fact that these letters were fake, covers were written allegedly by former Steeler and Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. Swann was employed by the NFL at the time the letters were being written but denied he wrote the cover letter. Swann's assistant claims Swann authorized them to accompany the fan letters. All this work ended up being for nothing as the FCC killed the rule in 2014, 5-0 and later the NFL ended the policy in 2015. So now everyone has a chance to see the 2018 season play out, whether at home or in person at the stadium.