SBJ/20090907/SBJ In-Depth

5 things to watch this NFL season

QB comebacks
Can Michael Vick and Brett Favre drive ratings even higher? How about merchandise sales? Or will fans sour on these comeback attempts? The QBs have been heavily hyped, so any missteps on or off the field will be greatly scrutinized.
Let’s make a deal
The NFL may be entering its last year with a salary cap. The league’s collective-bargaining agreement expires in 2011, but 2010 would have no cap unless a new labor deal is reached by March. The rhetoric is already flying, and the phrase “labor peace” may become a relic of a bygone era.
The bottom line
Can teams move enough tickets to avoid a rash of blackouts? How far will sponsor and hospitality revenue drop? Can broadcasters sell enough ads to support their high rights fees? Those are some of the questions as the NFL enters one of the diciest economic seasons in its history.
Jagged future?
The Jacksonville Jaguars say every one of their home games will be blacked out because of poor ticket sales, which raises the question of how the league will respond. Will a season of blackouts move the league to consider relocation and abandon the Jacksonville market?
Cowboys Stadium
The more than $1 billion stadium already had its first hiccup with its low-hanging mega video board. But the venue and its technological infrastructure could set the standard for all future stadiums. And the gusher of revenue, even without a naming-rights sponsor, could spark an even wider divide between the haves and have-nots in the NFL.
— Compiled by Daniel Kaplan
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