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After more than 20 years, NFL Network's Total Access shuts down

Total Access is no more.

The signature studio show, a weeknight fixture on NFL Network since its inception, has ended its run. The final show was tonight.

Questions first swirled when the show disappeared from the schedule for a full week earlier this year. More recently, reports emerged based on a recent round of layoffs that the show was being shuttered.

At one point, it would have been inconceivable. Total Access was NFL Network. However, as the media landscape changed, the relevance of a nightly studio show diminished significantly. And, frankly, the show was never the same after Rich Eisen left.

The closure of Total Access happens at a time when Good Morning Football is two months into a bizarre hiatus, driven by the even more bizarre decision to uproot the show from New York and send it to Los Angeles.

These cost-cutting moves are happening against the backdrop of the league's ongoing effort to unload NFL Network, presumably to ESPN. It never became what the league thought it would be, and its most valuable property — live regular-season games — could be sold to the highest bidder, likely generating more profit for the league than the network realizes by keeping the games.

It's still unclear why ESPN would want NFL Network. The best reason could be to deepen the relationship with the league, making it inevitable that ESPN will continue to have a broadcast package when the next round of bidding happens, likely in time for the 2030 season. Having the league acquire equity in ESPN as part of that transaction would bolster that reality.

Regardless of whether future developments will propel NFL Network forward, it is in the midst of taking several conspicuous steps back. The human toll arising from the gutting of the network is, frankly, a bad look for a wildly popular and financially viable sports league.