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THE MORNING ACCORDING TO US

"I know the timing kinda stinks, but it's my girlfriend's birthday tomorrow, and, well, could you sign this?" Getty Images

The NFL loves nothing more than its stars. Stars can define a league. Especially one whose biggest ancillary pastime is fantasy, after all. Then there's the business side. If you have a Super Bowl with a Brady and a Manning, ad sales trend up. Of course, the NFL is in the disposal business too. The average player lasts just over three seasons, and many never come close to qualifying for a pension, to see them through the longterm effects of those injuries. So as a league, your selling point is at once the stars, and the quiet reality that the supply is infinite. One burns out? Time to re-focus the media telescope on a new one. But what about in the short term, is the star machine a disaster even then? Apparently not.

Yesterday came news that post-Brady (he's not dead, just resting), ratings are up! And ratings are important, but the league is also working hard to give the product away too. Sunday Night Football is being streamed live now, a once unheard of concept for a crown jewel TV property. There are ratings, but total numbers are important too.

Ultimately, the league can't lose. If the mortgage on a Brady defaults, the league and media work hard to pump the proverbial cash into a new personality. There's always a bailout. And when all else fails, you can always give it away. Just print a little more dough.

Elsewhere?

Champion-level hog calling is alive and well. Try to top this while at the office today.

In South Korea, if you cheat on your taxes, your golf membership is taken away. But you apparently don't have to serve prison time. Guess this means fewer rich guys will take up golf.

Snag any dirt while you wandered the field at Yankee Stadium before the final game? Make sure you have it authenticated!

Go ahead, a little appreciation for John Madden isn't going to kill you. Heck, we went crazy over Madden '09 ourselves recently.

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