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Weekends in the fall and winter mean one thing - football. NFL football.

By season's end, we're blessed with up to four days a week of hard-core football action, served up in three-hour bursts of smashmouth glory.

Or, at least it's three hours at a clip for the armchair quarterbacks. But according to the Wall Street Journal, your average NFL game doesn't even offer up a quarter hour of actual action - only 11 minutes of game play when all is said and done.

According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.

In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. In the four broadcasts The Journal studied, injured players got six more seconds of camera time than celebrating players. While the network announcers showed up on screen for just 30 seconds, shots of the head coaches and referees took up about 7% of the average show.

So while you're gorging on NFL playoffs - and lots of heart-healthy snacks, of course - keep in mind that you really do have to hurry through your bathroom breaks so you don't miss a moment of action. There are so few moments to miss, it turns out.

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Jim Nantz found out the price of a broken heart - $916,000 a year. (AP)

CBS' omnipresent sports voice Jim Nantz is used to calling the hard-hitting action as it takes place on the field. Now he knows what's it's like to get drilled by a linebacker going across the middle.

Nantz must pay $916,000 yearly in alimony and child support to his ex-wife and give up their Connecticut home under terms of a newly issued divorce decree. The ruling, made Monday in Bridgeport Superior Court, dissolves the 26-year marriage of Nantz and Ann-Lorraine "Lorrie" Carlsen Nantz. It comes after both testified about the breakdown of their marriage during what really turned out to be a tear-jerker of a trial with both parties breaking down on the stand and outside the courtroom (highlights from Deadspin since the Connecticut Post took the story off their site):

Nantz cried on the stand as he testified about how his wife used to follow him around the country to various sporting events, but gradually lost interest in his career. She could not even be bothered to go to New York City to watch him collect a "Man of the Year" award. Or let him hang the oil painting--of himself--that he received with the award in their house. (He had to put it in storage.) He was even offered the hosting slot on the CBS Early Show, but turned it down because she was against it. He admitted to taking a younger lover, but that it didn't matter much because his marriage was already "dead."

Nantz, 50, acknowledged dating a 29-year-old woman before the divorce was final, the judge concluded the marriage deteriorated years earlier and "this remote event in no way contributed to the breakdown of the marriage."

Owens noted that the couple didn't share the same interests in Nantz's television career, which required frequent travel as the network's primary commentator for college football, golf and basketball, as well as appearances at charity events.

Under the ruling, Nantz must pay $72,000 in alimony monthly until he dies or his ex-wife remarries, and another $1,000 weekly in child support for the next two years. Nantz's attorney, Gaetano Ferro of New Canaan, said Tuesday that the famed sportscaster only wants what's best for his daughter and will not fight the terms of the divorce decree.

But don't worry about Jim. Court records show he's pulling down about $7 million a year for blabbing on the Eye. He'll be OK, once his broken heart heals.

They may be on-field rivals, but Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen have teamed up to sell Pepsi in their native Venezuela.

The duo appears in the following Spanish-language Pepsi commercial together, which includes a cameo at the end from Bobby Abreu:

 

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Brett Favre may or may not come out of retirement several times tonight on HBO. (AP)

BUCK TRIBUTE.jpgWho's voice will grate on you more?

Brett Favre will appear on Joe Buck's "Joe Buck Live," a quarterly show on HBO tonight at 8 p.m. (Central). Among other things, the retirement enthusiast Favre will discuss his desire to strap 'em on again, likely in a Minnesota Vikings uniform.

HBO spokesman Kevin Flaherty says Favre agreed in April to appear on the show at Buck's request. That was before his release from the New York Jets that prompted Minnesota's pursuit of the three-time NFL MVP.

The broadcast will be in front of a live audience out of New York, though there's no guarantee John Madden's bus will make it to the studio on time.

dungy-cutler-bears-tony.jpgNewly minted "Football Night in America" analyst Tony Dungy is wasting no time jumping into his new role, questioning whether the Bears made the right choice in trading for quarterback Jay Cutler.

During a teleconference to announce he'd be joining the NBC Sports today, the former Indianapolis Colts coach who led his team to a Super Bowl victory over the Bears in the 2006 season, was asked his thoughts about Chicago's blockbuster offseason trade.

Dungy posited that the Bears made the move largely with beating the Packers in mind.

"I really think Chicago gave up a lot to get a quarterback who they believe is going to be the final piece of the puzzle," said Dungy. "But I'm not sure he's won enough to merit that yet. It may turn out to be a great move, but the jury's out. To me, it was a risky move. But I think one that was done with the idea of beating one team."

Asked whether he thinks Cutler is the best quarterback in the NFC North, Dungy said it's too early to tell.

"We'll see about the maturity level, that's what I would question," said Dungy. "And some of the things that happened leading to him leaving Denver. That would concern me as a coach. That's my question. I think he can make all the throws. But quarterbacking is much more than making throws."

Dungy's first regular season appearance on NBC's "Football Night in America" will be Sept. 13, when the Bears take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
rodney-harrison-retires-2.JPGNew England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison is retiring after 15 years in the NFL, and will join the NBC Sports "Football Night in America" crew as an analyst.

Harrison, a south suburban Chicago native reputed as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL, was selected for the Pro Bowl twice during his career. After suffering a season-ending injury that kept him out the last 10 weeks of the 2008 season, Harrison joined the NBC Sports team as an analyst for the Super Bowl.

During a teleconference today, Harrison said of his new gig, "Just like I played the game, I'm going to be honest, going to be forthright and I'm going to do it with passion."

The 1991 Marian Catholic High School grad said he plans to "step up" his charity work with youths in the south suburbs in his off time.

In a statement released today, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, said, "Rodney is someone we've had our eye on. He is a strong communicator and personality, and our initial thoughts about him were confirmed when he did a terrific job for us at the Super Bowl. We have no doubt that Rodney will be as hard-hitting with his opinions as he was with his body on the football field.

"To paraphrase one of his teammates, 'Rodney was as blunt with his opinions as he was with this hits.'"

Former NFL Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth must be very proud of son Daniel. When the younger Schlereth took the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a scoreless 6th-inning relief appearance May 29, Schlereth-squared made father-son history as only the 6th duo to have an NFL and MLB player in the family.

The other five? There's an ex-Cub in there ...

Yogi Berra (MLB) - Tim Berra (NFL)

Lou Brock (MLB) - Lou Brock (NFL)

Jack Snow (NFL) - J.T. Snow (MLB)

Lee Gross (NFL) - Gabe Gross (MLB)

Don Patterson (NFL) - Corey Patterson (MLB)

Schlereth the elder has a history of being a huge backer of his son, going so far as to produce a documentary on Daniel's season as the University of Arizona closer in 2008. And he was all a-Twitter for the kid's Big League debut against Atlanta.

Daniel Schlereth was a first-round pick in the 2008 draft.

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Marziette Gonzales, 12, left, of Calgary, Canada, Drew Kantor, 10, of Edmonton, Canada, and Tegan Odland, 11, right, of Enchant, Canada, listen to other spellers during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP)

The oral rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee opened Wednesday with a touch of geography and a celebratory pump of the arms from the first contestant from China.

Kun Jacky Qiao became the first speller to represent China in the competition for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. The 12-year-old seventh-grader at the Beijing BISS International School, which caters to the children of expatriates in China, had no problem with "recuperate."

And, or course, you can catch all the action on various ESPN/ABC outlets. That is if you can get past the creepy feeling of watching these poor kids and their life-and-death struggles with the lexicon . Always compelling TV, but don't you feel just a little dirty afterward for wallowing in their angst?

You could suffer with them with this play-at-home test from the Bee people - drinking game component optional - and see if you are smarter than a 5th- through 7th-grader. You can even brush up with this practice program to get you ready for the high-stakes world of "using that in a sentence."

Or relive this glorious moment from last year ...

michael-strahan-brothers.JPGHere in the Midwest, we don't purport to know much about the inner machinations of Hollywood. We tend to believe that the studio decision makers sit around all day in their mansions dreaming up clever ideas that manifest into the drivel we consume during our evenings. We're OK with that. We accept it, and seldom question it with any seriousness -- which is why "Two and a Half Men" has existed for six seasons and Mark-Paul Gosselaar counts himself among the nation's employed.

It's also why "Brothers" -- the new Michael Strahan sitcom -- will come to life on the Fox network this fall. Yes ... the same Michael Strahan who set an NFL record with 22.5 sacks in a single season.

Why? Why would you do this, Fox? Why would you, Michael Strahan, with the original luster on your 2007 Super Bowl ring yet to tarnish, decide to do this?

According to the video promo on Fox's Web site, "Brothers" is "about the people we love ... the family we need ... and everything in between." Forgive me if I'm out of line here, but isn't everything in between the people we love and the family we need ... well, everything?

While "Seinfeld" followed the show-about-nothing formula to success, Michael Strahan's new sitcom is apparently about everything.  On the contrary, it's about a retired NFL player who is coping with life after the NFL. So, it's about Michael Strahan.

Here's the Fox plot treatment for the show:


Former Los Angeles Clippers (and Sparty!) center Paul Davis is featured in a recent episode of Bravo's "Millionaire Matchmaker."

In the episode "Paul and Kimi," Paul takes Kimi to an "upscale" bowling alley (isn't that an oxymoron?).

It gets interesting when Davis ups the ante with some friendly bets over who can bowl a strike. Davis' bowling prowess apparently nets him the following:

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