About half of Americans say they are fans of pro football, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.
The NFL is still the most popular sports league in the United States, drawing the highest TV ratings by far. Its revenues climbed above $9 billion last year and the Super Bowl between Seattle and Denver in New Jersey will be the most watched television program of the year.
Last year, 56 percent of people polled said they were NFL fans, that number dropped to 49 percent this year.
Fans were about evenly split on expansion of the playoffs. Twenty-six percent favor allowing more teams into the playoffs, an idea being considered by the NFL. Twenty-eight percent oppose it and 45 percent are neither in favor nor opposed.
The Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots tied for most responses when fans were asked to identify their favorite team. Each received seven percent.
Kicker Matt Prater missed practice all week with the flu and the Denver Broncos kept him away from the rest of the team so he didn’t get everyone else sick.
“We sent him home,” coach John Fox said after a practice in sunny 54-degree weather in Englewood, Colo. “He’s going to be fine for the game. Hopefully he’ll feel much better tomorrow (Sunday) morning as we prepare to fly to New Jersey.”
Prater, who was chosen for the Pro Bowl this season, missed all three of the team’s practices this week as the Broncos prepare for the Super Bowl against Seattle on Feb. 2 at MefLife Stadium.
Sale on Vikings bonds
Minnesota plans to begin selling bonds for the new $1 billion Vikings stadium on Monday after a two-week delay.
The sale was held up by a last-minute legal challenge filed before the Minnesota Supreme Court Jan. 10 by three Minneapolis residents who claimed the funding mechanism for the stadium was unconstitu- tional. The state delayed the $468 million bond sale until the legal issues could be resolved. The court dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday.
Gaine gaining on Miami
Miami Dolphins assistant general manager Brian Gaine has become the front-runner for their GM job.
Patriots executive Nick Caserio was offered the position but turned down the Dolphins, according to multiple reports.