In January 1986, a month after quitting as San Diego mayor following his conviction in a campaign money laundering scandal, Roger Hedgecock was asked by the Evening Tribune his pick to win that year’s Super Bowl. “Patriots by three points. Why? My 5-year-old son Christopher is picking them by three. He’s picked the Pats all the way through the playoffs. I don’t know why. But obviously he knows more about football than I do.”
The Chicago Bears beat the New England Patriots, 46-10.
Fast-forward to 2014. Hedgecock the elder, now 67, works for La Jolla real estate mogul and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester and his sidekick John Lynch, an ex-NFL player whose son is also a veteran of the league. The paper and its cable TV operation, where the voluble Hedgecock is a vocal financial backer of GOP mayoral hopeful Kevin Faulconer, are proponents of professional football and vigorously lobbying for a new taxpayer-subsidized Chargers stadium. Last month the U-T ran a sprawling feature bemoaning inroads that video pirates are making by stealing video broadcasts of the football league’s lucrative games and putting them on the internet.
“In data provided to Congress, the NFL has said it identified 1,045 unauthorized streams of live games during the 2008 season, and 2,800 in 2009. The league declines to release more recent figures,” the story said. “Three thousand miles to the south, J from Nicaragua is laughing. No, it’s not going away. He no longer pirates live sports telecasts. But his friends and relatives still do, including some, he says, living in the United States — without remorse or trepidation, for fun and for profit.”
As it happens, Hedgecock’s son Christopher, now 33, operates a website featuring items that show fans how to do the kind of thing the U-T condemns. Called Zeropaid.com, it was started in March 2000 by the younger Hedgecock and Jorge Gonzalez, according to a site history. “We still run the site today with the help of great writers, contributors, moderators, and you — the reader.” Last week, Zeropaid’s top item was headlined “How to Watch NFL Football Games Online For Free.” It began, “By following the easy steps below you can watch out of market NFL games online that may not be popular enough for broadcast TV, or NFL games that aren’t televised in local markets due to football blackout restrictions (especially with the economic downturn).”
Another Zeropaid item provided directions on “How to download Photoshop for Free” by using so-called torrent sites. Says the item: “To download the latest and greatest version of Photoshop — CS6 — you’ll need to fire up your favorite BitTorrent client and do a bit of searching. Don’t have one? Don’t know what BitTorrent is? Then read this quick guide ‘How to Download Stuff with BitTorrent.’ Once you have your BitTorrent Client fired up, go to any one of the thousands of BitTorrent tracker sites out there and search for a copy to download, or cut to the chase and go to the Pirate Bay right off the bat.”
Reached by phone last week, Chris Hedgecock said his site doesn’t host any pirated material and that it acts only as an informational resource for those interested in streaming free video, much of which is legally provided by sponsors. He said he didn’t remember his 1986 Super Bowl call.