NFL FANS, YOU'LL BE pleased to know that the league has decided to provide a gift that keeps on giving.

In more ways than one. Yesterday, commissioner Roger Goodell announced that CBS and NBC will join the NFL Network in simulcasting the game between the 15-0 Patriots and the Giants this Saturday for all to see.

That's a great idea for those who do not have the NFL Network and terrible for those who already pay the extra fee that Comcast and others charge. No game since the first Super Bowl in 1967 has been aired on three networks. "It was the commissioner's idea to simulcast the game, and it was actually NBC and CBS who contacted us," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Daily News. "Our primary objective was just as the commissioner said in [the release], that 'we took this . . . step because it is in the best interest of our fans.'"

Perfect for an NFL spokesman to say, but it's widely known that the NFL and Comcast, along with a few other large cable companies, do not see eye to eye on the idea of making the NFL Network a part of their broadly distributed and more affordable packages. Comcast is currently involved in a pair of lawsuits against the league.

"NFL Network is a programming service of great interest to fans and should be broadly distributed by the cable industry," said NFL Network president and CEO Steve Bornstein. "The only channel devoted 24/7 to America's favorite sport is not programming that should be relegated to a poorly-promoted, pay-extra sports tier that takes advantage of our fans' passion for the NFL."

Comcast representatives declined to comment.

But the question yet to be answered on either side is whether or not this is just the NFL's way of tying the hands of the cable companies that have been stubborn in the notion of making the NFL

Network as easy to watch as ESPN, ESPN2 and other networks lower on their sports tier totem pole.

Just think: This would not even be an issue if the Eagles had pulled off the impossible in Week 12. *

- Kerith Gabriel