OK, we've known for a while that the NFL is a very, very popular league among television viewers. But this popular?
The latest evidence: According to Sean Leahy of USA Today, Sunday night's Cowboys-Bengals Hall of Fame game on NBC, the first of the NFL's preseason games, outdrew Yankees-Red Sox on ESPN.
OK, OK, so Neil Best will argue that NBC network numbers regularly exceed those of cable channels. But Yankees-Red Sox in August? Wow.
Granted, the Bengals' debut of Terrell Owens was a big drawing card. But it didn't diminish that the game counted for nothing in the standings. Not only that, but the starters for both teams were gone by the second quarter.
The NBC game drew a 7.6 overnight rating and a 13 share, the best ratings for a preseason game since Tennessee played the Cowboys on Aug. 30, 2004. Sunday night's game had a 31 percent jump from last year's Bills-Titans Hall of Fame game.
Last year, the NFL drew record television ratings, as Super Bowl XLIV became the most watched television show of all-time with 153.4 million viewers and a 45.0 rating.
Now, does anyone really think there will be a lockout next year?