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NFL Notebook

Associated Press
The NFL roundup …
NEW YORK ó To understand just how good the NFL’s ratings have been this season ó the best in about 15 years ó it helps to take a moment and compare the league to the rest of TV.
Games on CBS, Fox and NBC averaged 20 million viewers. The average for the prime-time programming on the four major networks, the most coveted slots on the schedule? Around 8.2 million viewers.
That means NFL ratings are 144 percent better than television’s top non-football lineups, and here’s the kicker. That difference was 61 percent just five years ago.
Even CBS Sports president Sean McManus, whose network has committed billions of dollars to broadcast the NFL, is wowed by the figures.
“I’m continually pleased and really amazed by the kind of ratings that are being generated by all the networks during the regular season and postseason,” McManus said on a recent conference call.
“Go figure,” he added. “The NFL is just on fire this year. Fan interest seems to be at an all-time high.”
Fox Sports chairman David Hill this week ticked off the many theories for the league’s success. More knowledgeable fans. The prevalence of high-definition television, which particularly benefits NFL games. The recession, which has kept more people at home.
The ratings were already strong last season, then took another jump this year. Stars and story lines have lured in viewers, with a deep list of big-name quarterbacks playing well ó or at least making news, in the case of Minnesota’s Brett Favre. Appropriately, two franchises whose traditions tend to draw big ratings ó Green Bay and Pittsburgh ó are in the Super Bowl.
“The secret weapon is Howard Katz, the NFL’s scheduler,” Hill said. “If you’re not getting the right matchups in the right markets, then you are not putting the most appealing thing in front of people. If you look at the matchups he’s put together week in and week out and year in and year out, his hard work is shining.”
NEWTONíS COACH
SAN DIEGO ó Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton is expected to hold a workout in front of the media on Feb. 10 in San Diego.
Newton has been working with quarterbacks coach George Whitfield Jr. leading up to the NFL combine. Whitfield worked with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his four-game suspension.
IRVINíS ASSAULT
MIAMI ó Former Dallas Cowboys star Michael Irvin has settled a Florida lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her at a hotel in 2007.
INJURIES
NEW YORK ó The NFL players union says the average number of injuries has risen during the 2010 season.
In a report released Friday called “Dangers of the Game of Football,” the NFLPA says injuries increased from 3.2 to 3.7 per week per team and the share of players injured increased to 63 percent compared to a 2002-09 average of 59 percent.
LABOR PAINS
NEW YORK ó The NFL already is feeling financial effects from the uncertainty of its labor negotiations.
The league estimates its cumulative gross revenue losses could reach $1.7 billion by 2015 if there is no agreement with the players’ union before the next regular season is scheduled to start.
Sponsorship deal renewals already are problematic, with some companies telling the NFL they will not commit money if there is a work stoppage, according to Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president of business operations.

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