I've always been a fan of the double reverse in football. In handing off the ball in one direction and then again in the other, a team has a chance to create a masterpiece of misdirection. Sure, it doesn't always pan out that way. A defender can sniff the play out and deck the scrambling runner in the backfield for a loss.

Last night, just days before the annual NFL draft of collegiate athletes, the league came up with its own double reverse. Come next year, Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ABC will hand off the Monday Night Football franchise that it has championed for decades to its ESPN subsidiary, while ESPN will be handing off its Sunday night gridiron contests to rival General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC.

With Fox (NYSE:FOX) and Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) CBS still airing their Sunday afternoon games, ABC will become the only major network without football. Forget the implications for football fans. They'll adjust their viewing patterns accordingly. Investors have the only question that matters for the moment: Can ABC live without football?

Despite being NFL-free for seven years, NBC has remained as a ratings leader, thanks to its slate of hit prime-time sitcoms. But the network also found itself making some desperate deals to satisfy its pigskin addiction. It wound up on the losing end of broadcasting games by World Wrestling Entertainment's (NYSE:WWE) now-defunct XFL while eventually making a more cost-effective revenue-sharing deal for arena football broadcasting rights.

Football has come a long way, and Disney's ESPN has created its own monster. Back in 1979, when ESPN was launched and began showcasing the sporting world's biggest stars, the NFL received $8.8 million from television networks for broadcasting rights. That sum is now measured in billions. According to published reports NBC will be paying $600 million a year for the Sunday night games alone.

So can ABC survive? Of course it can. While it may have been a scary proposition two seasons ago, when Monday Night Football was the only consistent winner for ABC, the network now has viewers tuning in religiously for Desperate Housewives, Lost, and other new shows like Grey's Anatomy and Extreme Makeover.

The move will give ABC and its affiliates some more programming relief, too -- it no longer has to worry about whether the Monday night games are on too late for the East Coast or too early for the West Coast. On ESPN, it's all sports, all the time. Sure, ABC isn't likely to draw the same kind of audiences it once commanded on Monday nights, but whatever Disney chooses to fill those three hours of programming will be considerably easier on the pocketbook. The network was supposedly losing money on the package, and that may lead critics to question whether NBC is overpaying for its Sunday night games. If so, then Disney's misdirection play worked like a charm.

Some other plays in the content huddle:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders how his Miami Dolphins will botch the second overall pick in this weekend's draft -- and he thinks they will find a way. He owns shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.