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Doc's NFL Notebook

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PSR's James Santelli takes a look at issues around the league, including two former top draft picks about to hit the open market, the Super Bowl, TV and the 2010 All-Pro Team.

No Longer “Invince-able”
Five years after making Vince Young the third pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans are parting ways with their former franchise quarterback. Despite his 30-17 record as a starter and two Pro Bowl appearances with the team, Young’s tenure in Nashville was marked by injuries, questions concerning his work ethic, and often-mercurial behavior. The 27-year-old quarterback was to be owed a $4.25 million roster bonus in March and an $8.5 million salary in the 2011 season. With frequent starter Kerry Collins now 38 years old, the Titans are expected to pick up a new starting signal-caller in free agency or with the 8th pick in April’s draft.

Bengals/Palmer Impasse
Vince Young is not the only former top pick that may be hitting the open market this offseason. Former No. 1 overall choice Carson Palmer has requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, and is threatening to retire if he is not dealt from Cincinnati, according to several sources. Bengals owner Mike Brown responded to Palmer’s demand by stating outright, “We are not trading Carson.” Palmer, a two-time Pro Bowler along with Young, is said to be frustrated by the team’s 4-12 record in 2010. He would be leaving a four-year contract worth $50 million on the table if he were to retire this offseason at the age of 31.

Jumbotron Bowl
One day after the Packers and Steelers won their respective conferences, the cheapest tickets available for Super Bowl XLV on popular re-seller StubHub were $2,500 apiece (that’s right, the cheapest in the stadium). The Dallas Cowboys created a new option for a cheaper Super experience, selling groups of four tickets to watch the game on giant monitors in a plaza just outside the stadium for $800. Penguins fans are experienced with the idea of watching playoff games outside the venue, but putting a price on the opportunity to watch the Super Bowl in such a way is a first for the NFL. And February nights aren’t exactly balmy in North Texas: the average low temperature is 38 degrees.

Any Given Saturday
The Seattle Seahawks did not have the look of the playoff team. Their 7-9 record was three games below that of the Giants and Bucs, who missed the postseason. They ranked 28th in total offense and 27th in total defense, and were 10.5-point underdogs in their Wild Card game against the defending-champion Saints. But led by Matt Hasselbeck’s four touchdown passes and Marshawn Lynch’s 131 rushing yards, the Seahawks pulled off a 41-36 Saturday upset over New Orleans. Despite being the first sub-.500 team to make the playoffs in a full season of play, Seattle quieted critics who grumbled that a team should finish better than 8-8 to earn a playoff bid. The previous two teams to make the postseason with a .500 record, the 2004 Rams and 2008 Chargers, both won their opening playoff games.

Ratings Gold
The teams from Green Bay and Pittsburgh are not the only ones deeming the 2010 NFL season a success. So are executives from NBC, CBS, FOX, and ESPN. Each of those networks experienced increased viewership for their NFL broadcasts in 2010, a year with the highest average game viewership since 1989. Of the top-rated 25 sports broadcasts of the calendar year, 20 were NFL games. The strong numbers have already continued into 2011, with both conference championship games drawing their best ratings since 1997. More viewers means more money for the league as well, with ESPN reportedly offering over $1.8 billion per year to extend its contract for Monday Night Football.

Despite the Bieber Hair
In case anyone wasn’t aware, that Tom Brady fellow is pretty good at playing football. The Associated Press certainly thinks so, with the New England QB unanimously receiving all 50 votes for the quarterback position on the All-Pro team. Despite his team’s playoff loss to the Jets, Brady led his team to a 14-2 record with a league-high (by far) passer rating of 111.0 and an outstanding 36-4 TD-INT ratio. Brady was one of six Patriots to make the first- or second-team, a league-high. The Patriots’ three first-teamers (Brady, G Logan Mankins, ILB Jerod Mayo) helped the AFC to garner 18 of the 27 first-team spots, with the Steelers registering two first-team spots on defensive with S Troy Polamalu and OLB James Harrison.

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