Category: NFL

Miami Dolphins to play ball with HBO's 'Hard Knocks'

Miami dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are teaming up with HBO Sports and NFL Films for the latest installment of "Hard Knocks," the cable network's series which offers an all-access pass into the daily lives and routines of a successful NFL team.

"Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Miami Dolphins" will kick off its five-episode season on Aug. 7. This edition will also mark the 40th anniversary of what some sports fans call the greatest season in NFL history -- Don Shula's 1972 Dolphins, who had a perfect undefeated record.

Said Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports: "This marks the first time that the series has featured a first-year head coach (Joe Philbin), and we are extremely grateful to both Coach Philbin and the entire organization for agreeing to participate. As always, there will be plenty on the line for veterans, free agents and rookies."

The Dolphins are in the competitive AFC West division. A 24-person NFL Films crew will live at the team's training camp in South Florida, shooting more than 1,000 hours of video over the course of the series.


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-- Greg Braxton

Photo: Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) warms up with other rookies and tryouts during training camp at the team's practice facility in Davie, Fla. Credit: Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/MCT

Upfronts 2012: ESPN is ready for some NFL football

Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens

It may be the off-season, but it’s never too early to start beating the drums for the reigning ratings champ, the NFL. ESPN executives wasted little time at their annual upfront for advertisers Tuesday morning, trumpeting the network’s round-the-clock, multi-platform coverage of sports in general and the NFL in particular.

While tacitly dismissing growing competition from niche outfits as the MLB and NFL networks, ESPN executives boasted that their network is perfectly positioned to capitalize on the continued rise in sports viewing, which has seen a dramatic increase over the past several seasons for NFL games. Advertisers are especially attracted to live sporting events, which are largely seen as bulletproof to the DVR.

Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico, who host ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” pumped the slate of upcoming NFL games on the network that include a pair of contests featuring new Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and a November matchup between the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles vs. the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers.

Later, 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis was introduced and Gruden asked him how much longer he could keep playing, as Tuesday marked his 37th birthday.

“When you love it, why stop?” Lewis replied.

Next up was Justin Tuck, a defensive lineman for the New York Giants, who was asked if he had any advice for highly touted rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

“Run,” said Tuck.


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Photo: Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens   Photo credit: Cary Edmondson / US Presswire

Upfronts 2012: NBC giving thanks for Patriots-Jets

Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets

With the NFL games consistently drawing big audiences, NBC is riding the pigskin for all it's worth.

The network will air 19 games this season, one more than in recent years. The extra contest will come on Thanksgiving, when the Jets and Patriots will square off in prime time. The Turkey Day game for the last six years has aired on the NFL Network.

At its upfront presentation in New York on Monday, the network promoted Sunday night match-ups such as the Lions and Packers and Steelers and Broncos and said that each of the 12 teams that made the playoffs last year will have at least one Sunday night appearance.

VIDEO: Watch 2012 TV previews

The NFL season kicks off on NBC with the Cowboys and Giants on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The unusual midweek slot comes as a result of the Democratic National Convention, whose linchpin speech from President Obama is set for Thursday, Sept. 6.

The network touted its Sunday night telecast and its "Football Night in America," with the games surpassing "American Idol" in overall viewers as well as in the 18-49 demographic this year for the first time.

"In six years, the NFL and NBC have carved out a whole new American tradition," said NBC Sports chief Mark Lazarus.


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-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets. Credit: NBC/Paul Drinkwater


Tim Tebow's Broncos nab best NFL wild-card ratings in 24 years


You've got to hand it to quarterback Tim Tebow -- he does know how to deliver the big finish.

Tebow's Denver Broncos dashed to a dramatic 29-23 overtime victory Sunday over the Pittsburgh Steelers, giving CBS the highest rated wild-card NFL game in nearly a quarter-century.

The game earned a stunning 25.9 household rating and a 43 share, according to early data from Nielsen.

That was the highest rating in Nielsen's largest "metered" markets since a Seattle-Houston wild-card game in 1988 that drew a 26.7 rating.

Final numbers -- including a total-viewer tally -- will be available Tuesday.


NFL ratings down for season despite Tim Tebow factor

-- Scott Collins (

Photo: Tim Tebow celebrates the Denver Broncos' playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Credit: Chris Schneider / Associated Press


NFL ratings down despite Tim Tebow factor

Denver quarterback Tim Tebow may have a direct line to the Almighty, but that doesn't appear to have helped pro football ratings this season.

NFL games tumbled 2.1% overall in the ratings compared with last season, according to an analysis of Nielsen data provided Thursday by New York ad firm Horizon Media.

NBC's Sunday games averaged the most viewers — 21.5 million, down 1.4% compared with last year.

ESPN, which carries the popular "Monday Night Football," showed the greatest slippage, off 9.6% for a 13.3-million viewer average.

Fox, which has the rights to NFC games, was flat with 20.1 million, while CBS — which carries some AFC contests — lost 1.5% to 18.4 million.

The big winner? The league's NFL Network, which jumped 10.8% to 6.2 million.

The most-watched game of the season was the Thanksgiving matchup on CBS between Miami and Dallas, with 30.9 million tuning in.

So how were the ratings for Tebow, who guided his Broncos to a wild-card spot and became a national sensation thanks to his open piety?

Well, not bad. The NFL Network drew 7 million — one of its best audiences this season — for a November Broncos game. But that might have had something to do with the competition: Denver was playing the New York Jets.


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—Scott Collins (

Photo: Tim Tebow's celebrity hasn't been enough to lift NFL ratings this season. Credit: Jack Dempsey / Associated Press.



Hank Williams Jr. pulled off Monday Night Football after Obama insult

Hank williams 
Are you ready for some controversy?

Hank Williams Jr., the country singer who belts the rocking theme song for ESPN's "Monday Night Football," has been yanked off tonight's broadcast following comments in which he compared President Obama to Hitler.

In an interview on Fox News' "Fox & Friends," Williams compared the summer golf summit between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner as "one of the biggest political mistakes ever," according to reports. "That turned a lot of people off."

"It would be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli leader] Benjamin Netanyahu," Williams said. "In the shape this country's in?"

Asked to explain his analogy, Williams said Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are "the enemy," adding for some reason that they were "The Three Stooges."

In a statement, ESPN executives said: "While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize he is closely linked to our company through the opening of 'Monday Night Football.' We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast."


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— Greg Braxton

Photo: Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, left, and Hank Williams Jr. before the start of the Dolphins-New England Patriots game on Sept. 12. Photo credit: Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/MCT.

Madonna to play Super Bowl halftime?

Photo: Madonna in concert in 2008. Photo credit: Ettore Ferrari / EPA. Will next year's Super Bowl move from the Black Eyed Peas to the Material Girl?

Speculation about who will perform at halftime for the Super Bowl has centered on Madonna, according to, which cites sources close to the event who claim that Madonna will perform Feb. 5 at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

Although the story is on the NFL's website, NFL officials are keeping mum.

"We do not comment on the musical talent for the Super Bowl until we have something to announce," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

In addition to the Black Eyed Peas, past performers have included Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Rolling Stones and Prince.


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Photo: Madonna in concert in 2008. Photo credit: Ettore Ferrari / EPA.

Katie Couric on 'Today': I will make a decision in the next few weeks

Couric Katie Couric returned to NBC's "Today" show on Wednesday morning, where she told her former "Today" co-anchor Matt Lauer that she will make a decision about her future "in a few weeks," but she said she didn't want "to feel pressured by outside forces to make a decision."

Couric's contract with CBS News will be up in June, but when Lauer asked if she'd secretly made a decision about her next move and was waiting for the right time to announce it, Couric demurred. "No, I really haven't," she insisted. "I'm in the middle of figuring out where would be the best place for me."

Couric acknowledged that her run at "CBS Evening News" was initially rough. "I faced a lot of criticism early on," she said. Pressed by Lauer, she confirmed rumors that leaving her post to host a syndicated talk show was one viable option that would allow her to investigate health and social issues as well as politics. "It might be nice to have a little more wiggle room for me to show a little more personality," she said.

Whether she'll team up with Lauer on the talk show remains to be seen. Until then, we'll stay tuned about where she'll wiggle next.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



-- Melissa Maerz

Photo: Katie Couric. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

Jets' upset over Patriots on CBS was most-watched divisional playoff ever

The New York Jets weren't supposed to win Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, which no doubt helped the CBS telecast become the most-watched divisional playoff since at least 1987.

An average of 43.5 million total viewers tuned in to see the Jets upset the Patriots 28-21 in the AFC playoff, according to figures released Tuesday by the Nielsen Co.

CBS' other AFC playoff, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24 on Saturday, drew 34 million viewers, tying a record set in 1988.

After a banner year for NFL TV ratings, the high interest in both games last weekend increases anticipation that this year's Super Bowl, Feb. 6 on Fox, could again set viewing records.

--Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes of the New York Jets at their victory over New England. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images






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