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SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Best: A Super ratings increase for Pro Bowl

Given the massive attention the 2010 Pro Bowl received - albeit mostly negative - it was no surprise that Sunday night's game did well as a TV attraction.

Its averages of 12.3 million viewers - up 40 percent from last year - and 7.1 percent of homes were the most for the game since it was on ABC 10 years ago.

(New York was less excited than most major markets, finishing 53rd among 55 at 4.9 percent.)

The telecast itself was an improvement from the norm, too, largely because announcers had the benefit of talking about the upcoming Super Bowl rather than focusing on the inherent silliness on the field.

(Beyoncé expended more energy during her performance at the Grammys - which more than doubled the rating for football, by the way - than all the Pro Bowl pass rushers combined.)

The centerpiece of ESPN's presentation was Chris Berman's halftime interview with Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.

The content itself was not particularly enlightening and not worth the NFL dragging them to Florida a day early, but it served its purpose for the network and league. More Super Bowl hype!

It was telling that New Orleans recorded the highest rating for the game (21.0), even though its Saints were talking, not playing.

My favorite TV moment came pregame, when Cris Carter blasted Terrell Owens for comparing himself to Jerry Rice: "There's something to do with wide receiver that you seem to miss there, youngster. That's catching the football!''

So what to do in 2011, when the game returns to Hawaii? The NFL must balance the pros of holding it before the Super Bowl (it's still football season) with the cons (fewer stars will play).

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't much matter when it comes to major pro sports' least satisfying all-star game. But if you were to place a bet on it, I would suggest this: Follow the ratings.

Super Bowl stars online

There is nothing quite like the in-person experience of Super Bowl media day, both the most amusing and most humiliating day on the sports journalism calendar.

But even if you cannot get jostled by the colorful assortment of oddballs the NFL invites to the party, you can listen in on the 12 podiums used for key players and head coaches.

NFL.com will give fans a chance to choose whom to watch from 10 to 11 a.m. and noon to 1 Tuesday.

Suggestion for next year: Have fans ask questions directly from home. Why the heck not?

Sid returns to WFANSid Rosenberg, one-time bad boy of WFAN, will be back on the station from South Florida at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Mark Chernoff, WFAN's operations manager, wrote in an e-mail that Rosenberg's three-hour gig is "a one-shot deal for now.''

"Since Sid is living and working in Miami, I thought it might be fun to have him do a show the day before the Super Bowl,'' he wrote. "And it's an opportunity to do one additional on-location show.''

Obama on call for CBS

President Barack Obama, newly feisty after the State of the Union address, took a strong stand Saturday during the Duke-Georgetown game on CBS, declaring Clark Kellogg "the best color man in college basketball.''

As for Obama's own future, he said: "After retirement, I am coming after your job, Clark. I am just letting you know. You either have three more years or seven, I am not sure which. But you need to plan accordingly because I am going to do some play-by-play."

(Doesn't that mean he actually wants Jim Nantz's job?) Sound bitesMichael Fagan of Patchogue won his first individual PBA title Sunday, a telecast also notable because columnist-author Bill Simmons was a commentator on ESPN2. When he noted Fagan had been "making out" with his bowling ball, Simmons was informed by fellow announcers that Fagan merely was blowing into his thumb hole to keep it dry . . . CBS' Nick Faldo was candid as usual Saturday in discussing the issues that will surround Tiger Woods' eventual return to golf. "He's very sensitive to even just criticism,'' Faldo said. "No, more than criticism. Even just comments.'' . . . I'm not aware of plans for Mike Francesa and Chris Russo to appear on the radio together this week, but they did greet one another warmly on Radio Row in Fort Lauderdale Monday. . . RIP Tom Brookshier, who died Saturday. For viewers over 40, John Madden still is the new guy who replaced Brookshier opposite Pat Summerall on CBS . . . Rex Ryan apparently offended the delicate sensibilities of mixed martial arts fans and football columnists by making an impolite gesture Saturday. Lighten up, people! And anyway, Rex is a pussycat. Buddy would have decked the guy.

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