#nfl

Ashley Burns:

Hell, the Microsoft Xbox even showed up as the sponsor of last Thursday’s NFL Kickoff Concert in Seattle, as Pharrell and Chris Cornell put on shows for the fans, who were undoubtedly hypnotized by the endless barrage of product placements. So you’d think that with all of that money spent on getting the Surface in front of our faces that the NFL would have sent out at least one memo to the networks to make sure that this specific sponsor was mentioned by name. If anything, someone might have written “Please don’t call it an iPad!” and emailed it to the announce teams.

If that did happen, Fox’s John Lynch didn’t get the memo, because he went ahead and called the Surface tablets “iPad-like tools” during yesterday’s Saints-Falcons game. Whoops.

$400 million well spent by Microsoft. It just goes to show you: you can buy placement, but you can’t buy mindshare.

Meg James:

Overall, CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and DirecTV are paying the NFL more than $5.5 billion for TV rights deals this year. That’s a 22% increase over last year, media analyst Michael Nathanson of the MoffettNathanson research firm wrote in a report Friday.

Still plenty of money (and life) left in television, apparently. I just wonder how long this lasts? I imagine live sports (and the NFL in particular) will end up as the last stronghold for traditional television. This may not happen anytime soon, but nothing lasts forever.

If television advertising ever starts to dwindle, even slightly, how fast does the NFL shift the focus to other means? Fast, I imagine.

And how long until we see one of the online players (Netflix, etc) strike one of these deals as well? I’d bet on sooner rather than later.

Benny Evangelista:

Each team will have 13 Surfaces on the sidelines and 12 in the coaches box. The league owns and operates the tablets, which run on a secure wireless network. The devices will be locked in a temperature-controlled cart between games to prevent any team from manipulating the information.

I can’t believe Microsoft would let the NFL release the total Surface sales data for the quarter already.

And:

The league’s competition committee placed restrictions on the Surface tablets: They can display only still images, not video, and they won’t have Internet access.

There’s an Internet Explorer joke in here somewhere as well.

Last link on the Browns for a while, I swear. But I’m fascinated by the Johnny Manziel pick. A few other tidbits from Darren Rovell:

Team president Alec Scheiner told ESPN.com that, in the time since Manziel was selected through 5 p.m. ET Friday, the team has sold more than 2,300 season tickets.

"We know right now that every one of our games is going to be sold out for next season," Scheiner said.

And:

A higher percentage of televisions in Cleveland were tuned into the ESPN broadcast for Thursday’s first-round coverage than in any other market. An astounding 20 percent of all tweets related to the NFL draft on Thursday night included Manziel, according to Poptip, an analytics tracking firm.

Why this matters:

The Browns, who haven’t won more than five games in any of the past five seasons and haven’t won a playoff game since 1994…

I was 13 years old.

Naturally, it’s not all good news for the Browns this week.

James Vlahos:

By the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl, sports books in Nevada are expected to crack $100 million in wagers, the most that has ever been bet on a single game.

There is no greater unifier in American culture than professional football, which is followed by 68 percent of men and 42 percent of women — Republicans and Democrats in equal numbers. Game telecasts accounted for nine of the 10 most-watched programs in 2013, and the previous three Super Bowls were the most-viewed television programs of all time in the United States.

Crazy stats from a must-read on the state of sports gambling — which, I agree, is fueling the continued rise of the NFL at this point. I happened to be in Las Vegas during the AFC and NFC Championship Games last week, it was absolute mayhem. In every casino. Everywhere.

Peter Kafka:

The promotion is part of a new Facebook effort to get stars posting “public content” on the service — in the way that lots of people already do on services like Twitter and Instagram. As I’ve noted in the past, Facebook has been explicit about its pitch: Publish with us, and we’ll pay you back with eyeballs.

And now we can see exactly what Facebook is offering.

Facebook, your Twitter-envy is showing. So lame.

Nick Wagoner:

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed Friday that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke informed the league of a recent purchase of a 60-acre tract of land in Inglewood, Calif.

According to Goodell, that knowledge didn’t come with any discussion of building or developing a plan to make the location the future home of a football stadium.

The Rams’ lease with the Edward Jones Dome contains an escape clause that is set to kick in at the end of the 2014 season. If the stadium hasn’t been upgraded to one of the eight best venues in the NFL before that time, the Rams’ lease will then become a year-to-year proposition beginning in 2015.

Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

I’m betting we see the Rams back in Los Angeles by 2017.

Ray Ratto:

In sum, the 49ers are everything one should want in a team, but somehow are not yet all that. They are not in Buffalo Bills territory yet, losing four consecutive Super Bowls and being remembered as the quintessential team that couldn’t finish the deal. They aren’t even the Denver team that lost three Super Bowl in four years, or the Minnesota team that lost four in eight. You can’t even say they’re getting a reputation for not winning the big one.

But 2014 will be a hugely important year, and not because of the gaudy new digs. The 49ers are that very good team that has the wherewithal to be great but hasn’t proven it in the all-in hand yet. What they have accomplished is very difficult. What they have not yet done is more difficult still.

I was quite (and perhaps unfairly) upset following the 49ers loss to the Seahawks last week. But after taking the week off to calm down a bit, this whole piece seems like a reasonable assessment.

[thanks @steven_aquino for sending it my way]

ESPN:

Fans of the 49ers have raised more than $9,000 to purchase a billboard in Seattle aimed at taunting residents with images of the five Super Bowl trophies the 49ers have won as a franchise. The group’s website said as of Wednesday afternoon that $9,358 has been raised.

With the project expected to cost $7,000, the remaining money will be contributed to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, according to project manager Aasheesh Shravah.

Brilliant.