The Defense department made a last-minute change to allow overseas troops to watch the NFL playoffs during the government shutdown

US soldiers from the 101st Airborne cheer as the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots play Super Bowl XXXVI February 3, 2002 while stationed at Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan

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US soldiers from the 101st Airborne cheer as the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots play Super Bowl XXXVI February 3, 2002 while stationed at Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan
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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • The federal government is currently in a partial shutdown.
  • Due to the shutdown, the Department of Defense’s Armed Forces Network was not operational Saturday.
  • A last minute change Sunday allowed the games to be shown.

Deployed members of the US military rely on a few comforts while away from home – one of those being the ability to watch American sports on the Armed Forces Network (AFN).

However, for those troops hoping to catch the NFL playoffs on Sunday, they nearly missed out.

Due to the government shutdown, AFN was not be operational on aturday, risking the loss of the broadcast of the NFC and AFC Championship games on Sunday since all nonessential services are scrapped during a shutdown. AFN is operated by the Department of Defense.

At the last minute, however, the Department of Defense reclassified AFN as an “essential” service, letting military personnel see the games.

“Despite the government shutdown, DoD determined the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts constitutes them as essential activities. We will continue to find solutions to support our troops at home and abroad. Congress must come to a resolution, support our troops and pass a budget soon,” Dana White, a DoD spokesperson, said Sunday morning.

While the game will be shown, those members of the military overseas will still be on duty during the shutdown and will not be getting paychecks.

On Saturday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seized on the AFN blackout, tweeting a picture of a television with an AFN logo and the phrase, “Due to the government shutdown, AFN services are not available.”

“I received this from a young infantryman serving in Afghanistan this morning. Sad that the men and women who have sacrificed so much are deprived of even the most basic connection to home bc Democrats are playing political games,” Sanders tweeted.

Here’s the message that went out from the AFN Twitter account Saturday, prior to the deal: