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NBC, NFL get their signals straight

Network given 2-year extension

Associated Press / August 20, 2009

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The NFL and NBC are extending their contract for “Sunday Night Football’’ by two years.

The league’s teams approved the extension at an owners meeting yesterday in Chicago. The original six-year deal will now run through 2013.

The network will continue to broadcast 16 regular-season Sunday night games, the Thursday night season opener, and both wild-card Saturday games. Flexible scheduling will remain in effect for the final seven weeks of the regular season, allowing NBC to change games to ensure the matchup has playoff implications.

The Favre effect
The Vikings have sold more than 3,200 season tickets since news broke that Brett Favre was coming to Minnesota. That’s in approximately a 24-hour span.

Chief marketing officer Steve LaCroix said the team has sold about 11,000 single-game tickets during that time as fans clamor over the arrival of the veteran quarterback.

There are roughly 6,000 season tickets remaining. The Vikings had to race to beat the blackout deadline for several games last season, including needing two extensions from the NFL for the first-round playoff game against Philadelphia.

Ticket demand at online broker RazorGator.com has soared. Prices on the site for Favre’s return to Lambeau Field in Green Bay Nov. 1 leaped 118 percent, from $441.48 to $975.56. For the Oct. 5 home game when the Packers go to the Metrodome, tickets are up from $263.13 to $402.48.

Merchandise is also moving. LaCroix said several hundred orders for Favre jerseys were placed online Tuesday. The purple No. 4s showed up in stores yesterday.

Toe sidelines T.O.
A sprained toe will prevent Terrell Owens from practicing until next week, meaning he’ll miss Buffalo’s exhibition game at Green Bay Saturday. Bills coach Dick Jauron ruled Owens out of playing this week after the receiver missed his second straight practice. Jauron said Owens isn’t expected to resume practicing until “next week some time.’’ Except for a brief 20-minute workout during practice Monday, Owens has been out since jamming his foot in a 21-18 loss to Tennessee in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 9 . . . Veteran cornerback Eric Green was released by the Dolphins, leaving rookies Sean Smith and Vontae Davis to contend for a starting job . . . The Raiders released veteran fullback Lorenzo Neal, ending his brief stay with the team. Neal, who signed with the Raiders in May, was expected to push Oren O’Neal and Luke Lawton for the starting fullback job but became expendable when O’Neal impressed the coaching staff . . . Seattle’s nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones will have his second knee operation in eight months, leaving his playing status in doubt.

Marshall fuming
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is upset with the way the Broncos handled his acquittal on misdemeanor battery charges last week. In his first public comments about the matter, Marshall said he was miffed a member of the team’s public relations staff told his teammates not to gloat over his acquittal in an Atlanta courtroom last Friday. Marshall was told the staffer was acting on his own in an attempt to be sensitive, but he believes the directive came from higher in the organization and he suggested the episode fostered distrust between him and the Broncos. The Pro Bowl receiver already is unhappy that the Broncos haven’t reworked his contract or traded him . . . Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard passed his physical and was taken off the non-football injury list by the Giants. Bernard, who signed a four-year, $16 million contract in the offseason, hurt his hamstring after the Giants’ minicamp.

E-mails emerge
The attorney for Ben Roethlisberger said the former Nevada casino worker who accused the Steelers quarterback of rape in a civil lawsuit should drop the case because her own e-mails and text messages prove she wasn’t assaulted. The woman “should abandon her lawsuit immediately and admit that Ben Roethlisberger did not rape her,’’ Roethlisberger’s attorney W. David Cornwell said in a statement e-mailed to the Associated Press. “We believe that [the woman’s] own words directly refute the scurrilous allegations made in her complaint.’’ The woman contends in the lawsuit filed last month in Washoe County District Court in Reno that Roethlisberger raped her in his room at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe in July 2008 when he was there to play in a celebrity golf tournament. Cornwell provided AP with 18 pages of e-mails and texts purportedly between the 31-year-old woman and a male friend . . . Seahawks starting linebacker Leroy Hill says he expects to hear from the NFL now that he has been charged in Georgia with misdemeanor marijuana possession stemming from a January traffic stop. Attorney Reza Sedghi says the team can expect to lose Hill for some time during the season while he attends a trial . . . Venus and Serena Williams will become the latest celebrities to own a stake in the Miami Dolphins, a person familiar with the deal said. Musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony recently bought small shares of the team.

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