Sports

Season ticket sales decline again in NFL

Third down has a new meaning in the NFL this season.

Season ticket sales declined for the third year in a row as teams struggled to get fans to the stadium in a weak economy.

Depending on the final numbers, season ticket sales will be down between 1 percent and 2 percent, said Eric Grubman, the league’s executive vice president for business ventures.

“I wouldn’t say we’re pleased,” Grubman said Wednesday on the eve of the season opener between Minnesota and New Orleans.

Still, the drop could have been worse given the financial climate in the United States, he said.

“It’s been a tough economic time, and we have a sport that’s full of passion and competition, and people love that,” he said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “So, by virtue of that, people really do try to hold onto their season tickets or buy new ones if they can.”

Grubman said overall attendance declined from 17 million in 2008 to 16.6 million last year. Average regular-season attendance dropped each year from 2006 (68,774) to 2009 (67,509), according to STATS LLC.

ANGRY GIANT

Giants running back Brandon Jacobs stormed off from an interview session with reporters after being questioned about his role.

Jacobs has been demoted to the No. 2 back behind Ahmad Bradshaw. He didn’t answer questions about comments he made last week that he was unhappy with his role.

After answering some questions about the Giants’ new stadium and the upcoming season, he was asked about the team’s two-back system in 2008, when he and Derrick Ward shared carries and each ran for 1,000 yards. Part of the question was, did both backs forget their egos?

“You think I’m stupid, aren’t you? You guys are funny, man,” Jacobs said before he walked away, leaving the room with an expletive.

EXTRA POINTS

Guard Uche Nwaneri signed a five-year extension reportedly worth $24 million with the Jaguars. … Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth will be with the team when it opens the season Sunday, a day after multiple reports said the Redskins were in discussions with the Tennessee Titans about trading the two-time All-Pro. … Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs (sprained right ankle) was in full pads for the first time since Aug. 28 and practiced on a limited basis for the Bears. … Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said star receiver Chad Ochocinco’s constant use of Twitter is “just a bunch of nonsense.” … Bills running back Fred Jackson (surgery for broken bone in his hand) is expected to play in the team’s opener against the Dolphins, while free safety Jairus Byrd’s status has not yet been determined because of a groin injury. Rookie running back C.J. Spiller will be the starting running back. … Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman was limited in practice, although the Buccaneers say he remains on course to start the team’s season opener against the Browns despite breaking the thumb on his throwing hand during the exhibition season. … Cardinals star receiver Larry Fitzgerald was back in practice at full speed after sitting out the final three exhibition games after spraining his right knee. … Tony Ugoh, previously projected to be the Colts’ left tackle of the future, was placed on the waived-injured list after missing practice with an undisclosed foot injury.

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